How many people are affected by this condition?
- Salivary gland tumors comprise approximately 6% of all head and neck tumors.
- Approximately 6 people per 100,000 are diagnosed with a parotid tumor.
- Approximately, 20,000 new cases of parotid tumors are diagnosed per year in the United States.
- Parotid tumors occur in all ages, races, and sexes.
- 80% of salivary gland tumors are located in the parotid gland.
- 80% of parotid tumors are benign; 20% are malignant.
- 2/3 of the benign parotid tumors are pleomorphic adenomas.
- 10% of salivary gland tumors are located in the submandibular gland.
- 50% of submandibular gland tumors are benign; 50% are malignant.
- 1% of salivary gland tumors are located in the sublingual gland.
- 20% of sublingual tumors are benign; 80% are malignant.
Minor Salivary Glands
- 10% of salivary gland tumors are located in the minor glands.
- 50% of minor gland tumors are benign; 50% are malignant.
- Parotid tumors account for 1% of malignancies in children.
- 75% percent of parotid tumors are benign*; 25% are malignant.
*Although approximately 75% are benign, this number is high because a large number of parotid tumors are composed of supporting cell tumors like muscle (myomas), fat (lipomas), and blood and lymphatic vessels (hemangiomas/lymphangiomas). Malignant supporting cell tumors, such as sarcomas and lymphomas, are not as common in children.
- Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in children.
- Glandular parotid tumors, which are more common in adults, have a 50% chance of being malignant in children.
- Acinic cell carcinoma is generally diagnosed in late childhood.
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1. Olsen, KD (2018). Master Slide Set. Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment. Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, pp. 24-173.
2. Orvidas, LJ; Kasperbauer, JL; Lewis JE; and Olsen, KD (2000). Pediatric Parotid Masses. In KD Olsen, Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment (pp. 189-186). Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.
3. The content in this section was drafted in consultation with Eric J. Moore, M.D., and Kerry D. Olsen, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.