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Types of Parotid Tumors

A tumor is a growth of cells that can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). There are many different types of parotid gland tumors because there are many different cell types in the parotid gland, including gland cells, duct cells, and connective tissue cells.

The gland cells produce saliva. The duct cells carry the saliva from the parotid gland to the mouth. The connective tissue cells hold the different parts of salivary gland system together. Tumors can develop from gland cells, duct cells, and/or connective tissue cells.

The vast majority of parotid tumors are benign, but there are some parotid tumors that are malignant.

The following lists include the most common types of benign and malignant parotid tumors. These lists do not include all possible parotid tumor types.

Benign Parotid Tumor Types:

  • Pleomorphic Adenoma
  • Basal Cell Adenoma
  • Oncocytoma
  • Warthin tumor

Malignant Parotid Tumor Types:

  • Acinic Cell Carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
  • Carcinoma Ex-Pleomorphic Adenoma
  • Clear Cell Carcinoma
  • Malignant Mixed Tumor
  • Myoepithelial Carcinoma
  • Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma (MEC)
  • Oncocytic Carcinoma
  • Polymorphous Low-Grade Adenocarcinoma
  • Salivary Duct Carcinoma
  • Other Related Cancers

These are some of the most common cancers that spread to the parotid gland from some other area of the body:

  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Merkel Cell Carcinoma

For definitions, visit the Glossary of Terms.

For additional information on parotid tumor types, click here to watch Video 7 of the Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide series.



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. 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. Mayo Clinic. (2018, October 8.) Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide: Parotid Tumor Types [Video File]. Retrieved by

4. 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.