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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Parotid Tumor?

    A parotid tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue in the parotid gland, which is the largest of the major salivary glands. A parotid tumor can be benign or malignant. The majority of salivary gland tumors are located in the parotid gland. Please visit the Parotid Education section of the website to learn more about the diagnosis, management, and treatment of parotid tumors.

  2. What is the Parotid Patient Project?

    The Parotid Patient Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the total care of patients with parotid tumors. As advocates for the patient, we educate and empower them to make good decisions regarding their care, and we generate funds for research to identify the causes of parotid tumors and to advance the diagnosis, management, and outcomes for parotid gland diseases.

  3. What type of specialist do I need to properly diagnose and treat a parotid tumor?

    A parotid tumor is a rare condition, and a general practitioner may not recognize the tumor and properly diagnose it. It is important that patients see a specialist who can properly recognize and diagnose a parotid gland tumor. Please visit our section on How to Find a Specialist to learn more about this topic.

  4. I am very worried and stressed about this situation. Is that normal?

    Yes, it is completely normal to feel this way. The vast majority of parotid patients feel scared, stressed, and overwhelmed before having surgery. The most difficult part of this journey for most patients is the period of worrying and waiting before surgery. You can join our patient forum and connect with other patients to hear their stories and to receive support and encouragement.

  5. Is there any less invasive treatment for parotid tumors other than surgery?

    The primary treatment for both benign and malignant parotid tumors is surgical removal. It is important for patients to remember that even benign parotid tumors can cause problems and should be evaluated by a proper specialist. Click here to learn more about the treatment options for parotid tumors.

  6. I have an upcoming appointment with my surgeon. What questions should I ask?

    It is important that patients learn enough information about their tumor and treatment plan during their appointment, so they can make informed medical decisions. Please refer to our list of questions for your surgeon to learn about the most important topics that should be discussed during your appointment. You can print this list and take it with you to your appointment.

  7. How do I know if my surgeon has enough experience?

    Ideally, patients should attempt to find a surgeon who performs at least 20 parotid surgeries per year to ensure that the surgeon is maintaining the skill level required to successfully perform this surgery. Please visit our section on Selecting a Surgeon to learn more about this topic.

  8. My doctor told me to “watch and wait.” What should I do?

    It is important for patients to remember that even benign parotid tumors can cause problems. Parotid tumors should not be ignored or observed except in very unique circumstances. The only way to know the true pathology of a tumor is by having a final pathology done on the tumor after it is surgically removed. If a patient is told to just “watch and wait,” we recommend that the patient request a second opinion from another surgeon, if possible, to ensure that their parotid tumor is being properly treated. You can learn more about this topic in the Treatment of Parotid Tumors section of the website.

  9. I am afraid that my face will be permanently paralyzed after surgery. Is it normal to feel this way?

    A lot of patients are fearful of having this surgery because they are concerned that their face will be permanently paralyzed. It is important for patients to remember that the chances of having permanent facial paralysis after this surgery is extremely low. It is not recommended that patients put off this surgery because they are afraid that their face will be permanently paralyzed. The vast majority of parotid surgeries go very well, and the facial nerve does not get damaged during the surgery. Please refer to our surgery section of the website to learn more about parotid surgery.

  10. How long does recovery take?

    The recovery time for each patient will vary depending on the extent of the surgery performed, and that patient’s health condition. The recovery from parotid surgery takes time and requires patience. It is important that patients set realistic expectations for their recovery, so they do not become frustrated when the recovery process takes longer than they anticipated. Please visit the recovery section to learn more about what to expect during the recovery period.

  11. How long will I need to be off from work after surgery?

    The length of time that patients need to take off work will vary depending on the type of work that patient performs, the extent of their surgery, and the patient’s health condition. It is generally recommended that patients take three weeks off of work, if possible, but that time can be shortened or lengthened depending on each patient’s individual circumstances.

  12. How can I connect with other parotid tumor patients?

    You can join our patient forum to connect with other patients. This is a very stressful time, and it is very helpful to talk about your concerns and fears with fellow patients. The patient forum is also a good place to find surgeon referrals from patients who have had successful surgeries.

  13. I have a question about parotid tumors that is not discussed on the website. Can I submit a new question?

    Yes. You can find the link to submit a new question under the resources tab of the website. The new questions will be answered on a periodic basis by volunteer doctors, who are parotid tumor experts, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

  14. How can I make a donation to the Parotid Patient Project?

    To make a donation, please visit the Donate Now link at the top of the website page or under the How To Help section of the website. You can also select Parotid Patient Project as your charity of choice through the Amazon Smile program. When you shop via Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate .5% of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. Use this link https://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-3083452 to support Parotid Patient Project through Amazon Smile.

  15. Is my donation tax deductible?

    Yes. Parotid Patient Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and your financial contributions may be deductible for federal income tax purposes. Please consult with your financial adviser to determine the extent of tax deductibility.

  16. Can I mail in my donation?

    Yes, we gratefully accept donations via regular mail. Please mail your donation to:

    Parotid Patient Project
    301 W. Grand Avenue, Box 192
    Chicago, IL 60654