Pleomorphic Adenoma Symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

Pleomorphic adenoma is a painless condition that takes a great deal of time to develop into noticeable symptoms. Once a lump is detected that is thought to be pleomorphic adenoma, a biopsy is performed to determine if it is benign or malignant. A doctor will also perform tests to confirm that pleomorphic adenoma is present as opposed to other salivary gland conditions, such as lymphomas, that require significantly different treatments.


Pleomorphic adenoma is a condition that creates tumours in the tissue of the salivary glands. It is most common in people from ages 30 to 50, and it is one of the more common tumours that may arise in the salivary glands. The most common form of pleomorphic adenoma is benign, which is to say the tumours are not cancerous. The tumours associated with pleomorphic adenoma also do not spread unless they have been punctured or disturbed. Malignant, or cancerous, forms of pleomorphic adenoma tumours are extremely rare.


Pleomorphic adenoma tumours are very slowly developing lumps that will appear either just in front of or behind the ear which are called parotid tumours, or just below the jaw in tumours referred to as submandibular tumours. They are generally painless tumours, but if they grow large enough they may begin to cause discomfort by pushing aside internal organs such as the tonsils or the tongue.


Pleomorphic adenoma may also cause facial symptoms if it becomes malignant and depending on where the tumour is located. If a malignant pleomorphic adenoma tumour is located more towards the front of the parotid portion of the salivary glands, it could start to damage the nerves that connect to the facial muscles. This will cause noticeable disfigurement to the face and indicates a more severe stage of the condition.


The most common treatment for pleomorphic adenoma is surgery to remove the tumour. Prior to surgery, the doctor will perform a biopsy and blood tests to see if the tumour is benign or malignant. Malignant pleomorphic adenoma tumours may require further post-surgical treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy to stop the potential spread of any cancerous cells.


It is important to schedule follow-up appointments for the surgical removal of even a benign pleomorphic adenoma tumour. An incompletely removed tumour can sometimes grow again, or it may even spread to other parts of the body and create other benign tumours.

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About the Author

George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.