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Salivary gland

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Benign tumours of the salivary gland

A benign tumour is a non-cancerous growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and is not usually life-threatening. More than half of all salivary gland tumours are benign.

Benign salivary tumours are basically diagnosed and treated the same way.


If the signs and symptoms of a benign salivary gland tumour are present, or if the doctor suspects a benign tumour, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • computed tomography (CT) scan
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • fine needle aspiration or biopsy


Treatment of benign tumours of the salivary glands can involve surgical removal of the tumour.

Pleomorphic adenoma

Pleomorphic adenoma (benign mixed tumour) is the most common type of benign tumour of major and minor salivary glands. They make up over half of all salivary gland tumours. Most pleomorphic adenomas occur in the parotid gland and about one-third occur in the submandibular gland. They are a slow-growing mass that is quite often present for some time before diagnosis.

Pleomorphic adenomas are more common in women 40–60 years of age. They commonly present as a painless, slightly soft swelling of the parotid, submandibular or the sublingual glands. Treatment is a superficial lobectomy. If a pleomorphic adenoma is not surgically removed, there is a small risk that it might develop into a malignant carcinoma called ex pleomorphic adenoma.

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Papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum

Papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum (Warthin's tumour) is the second most common type of benign salivary gland tumour. They occur mainly in the parotid gland and rarely in the submandibular or minor salivary glands. Warthin's tumours occur most often in men 40–70 years of age. There is an increased risk for tobacco smokers. Tumours can occur in glands on both side of the face (bilateral). General signs and symptoms include a painless swelling of the parotid, submandibular or the sublingual glands.

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Monomorphic adenoma

Monomorphic adenomas are a group of benign salivary gland tumours. They are slow growing and are the least aggressive type of salivary gland tumour. They are less common than pleomorphic adenomas. Monomorphic adenomas include:

Basal cell adenoma

Basal cell adenoma is the most common variety of monomorphic adenoma. It usually occurs in older people. It can be removed by surgery (excision). Basal cell adenomas occur most often in the minor salivary glands, usually in the upper lip. Basal cell adenoma must not be confused with a basal cell carcinoma of the skin that has spread (metastasized) to the parotid lymph nodes.


Oncocytoma is a slow-growing tumour most commonly found in older people. This tumour occurs most often in the parotid gland, less often in the submandibular gland and rarely in the minor salivary glands.

Canalicular adenoma

Canalicular adenoma is an uncommon salivary gland tumour that most frequently occurs in the upper lip. Rarely, canalicular adenoma can occur as a multifocalmultifocalOccurring in more than one place. lesion.

Sebaceous adenoma

Sebaceous adenoma is a tumour that rarely occurs in the oral cavity. They do not normally come back after surgical removal.

Sebaceous lymphadenoma

Sebaceous lymphadenoma is a rare tumour that can occur in the parotid glands on both sides of the face (bilateral). Sebaceous lymphadenoma rarely develops into a malignant tumour.

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Myoepithelioma is a rare tumour of the parotid gland. There are no known risk factors for developing myoepithelioma. Signs and symptoms may include painless swelling of the parotid gland.

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Cystadenoma is a rare minor salivary gland tumour. The signs and symptoms of cystadenoma may include painless swelling of one of the salivary glands.

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Ductal papilloma

Ductal papilloma is a rare tumour of the minor salivary glands. They start in the salivary gland duct system. The signs and symptoms may include painless swelling of the minor salivary glands.

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Benign lymphoepithelial lesion

Benign lymphoepithelial tumours (Godwin's tumours) account for about 5% of benign lesions. The tumour may occur on both sides of the face (bilateral) and is more common in women.

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Sialoblastoma is a rare tumour that occurs in babies (congenital). There are very few reported cases. It most commonly affects the parotid gland or submandibular gland. They can be surgically removed.

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