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Signs and Symptoms

There are many potential causes for swelling or lumps in or near the parotid gland. Any lump near the parotid gland should be considered a potential parotid tumor and should be assessed by a physician who specializes in the treatment of parotid tumors.

A visit to a proper specialist will ensure that the patient receives the correct diagnosis and treatment.

If you have swelling or a lump in or near the parotid gland, it does not automatically mean that you have cancer. The majority of parotid tumors are benign.

Although parotid tumors generally do not produce any symptoms, there are some common symptoms that some patients may experience.

What are the Common Symptoms?
  • Lump or swelling in or near your parotid gland, upper neck, behind the lobule of the ear, jaw, or mouth
     
  • Continuous pain in or near your parotid gland
     
  • Facial numbness (this is very rare)
     
  • Facial paralysis
     
  • Facial pain or aching feeling
     
  • Facial muscle weakness or loss of motion in part of the face, e.g., altered smile or weakness with eye closure
     
  • Visible swelling or a mass that you can see or feel
     
  • Other lumps felt in the neck area

There are other reasons or conditions that could cause these symptoms. The most important first step is finding the proper specialist to assess your situation.

Be your own advocate and trust your gut feelings. You know your body the best, and if something does not feel right you should push for a referral to a proper specialist and/or for further testing. Parotid tumors are rare and not all physicians will recognize them.

References

1. Olsen, KD (1987). The Parotid Lump-Don't Biopsy It! In KD Olsen, Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment (pp. 5-11). Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

2. Olsen, KD (2000). Carcinoma of the Major Salivary Glands. In KD Olsen, Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment (pp. 174-184). Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

3. Moore, EJ and Olsen, KD (2007). Total Parotidectomy. In KD Olsen, Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment (pp. 214-233). Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

4. Olsen, KD (2004). Superficial Parotidectomy. In KD Olsen, Salivary Gland Disease and Treatment (pp. 234-246). Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

5. 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.