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Pleomorphic adenoma: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About pleomorphic adenoma

Pleomorphic adenoma is a benign tumour affecting the major and minor salivary glands. Though it may affect any salivary gland, but is most commonly seen in the parotid gland. It is a treatable cancer and carries a good survival rate.

Pleomorphic adenoma: Incidence, age and sex

Pleomorphic adenoma is an infrequently occurring benign tumour. It can occur in any age group but most commonly affects individuals in their 3rd to 5th decades. Its prevalence is more in women as compared to men.

Signs and symptoms of pleomorphic adenoma: Diagnosis

The primary clinical features of pleomorphic adenoma include a nodule or a swelling close to the ear. It may cause eversion of the earlobe as it gradually enlarges in size. It is firm to touch and is generally painless. Rarely, it may exhibit enormous growth, compressing the adjacent structures and resulting in pressure symptoms.

It is advisable to consult an oral surgeon and an oncologist to investigate the benign growth. Biopsy (small section of affected tissue) is done for detailed microscopic examination which may show mixed tumour cells. Other investigations like ultrasound, CT or MRI scans may be done to see the size and extension of the tumour.

Causes and prevention of pleomorphic adenoma

The cause of pleomorphic adenoma is not quite clear. It is considered to develop as a result of exposure to radiation or some virus.

Pleomorphic adenoma: Complications

Pleomorphic adenoma may have distressing personal and social implications. The individual can have a distorted facial appearance as a result of surgical excision of the tumour growth. Moreover, it may develop malignancy and invade other tissues. Damage to the facial nerve is the commonest complication which may lead to facial paralysis. Frey’s syndrome is also another postoperative complication seen.

Pleomorphic adenoma: Treatment

Pleomorphic adenoma is a slow-growing tumour. It is suggested that complete surgical excision of tumour growth be done, followed by radiotherapy. Chemotherapy does not play a significant role in the management of pleomorphic adenoma. It is advisable to get regular health checks done even after total resection of tumour, to check for any recurrence.