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  • Pleomorphic adenoma

    A pleomorphic adenoma is a benign neoplasm that forms in the salivary gland. Although they start out benign they do have the potential to become malignant.

    Most present as a single mass and they can sometimes be mobile. Pleomorphic adenoma is the most common type of salivary glad tumor and they are generally slow growing.

    They are also sometimes called mixed tumors of the salivary gland type. While pleomorphic adenoma can occur at any age, they are most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 43 – 46. Pleomorphic adenoma is twice as common in women as they are in men. While the cause is unknown it is believed to have links to radiation exposure and also to simian virus.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Pleomorphic adenoma is usually painless in the early stages. As they grow larger they can cause complications in the mouth or ears.

    When they interfere with the mouth patients see symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, a hoarse throat or difficulty chewing. Larger pleomorphic adenoma has the potential to interfere with speech and with nerves that control facial muscles.


    An outpatient procedure can be done to take a biopsy of the cells to determine they type of tumor. Ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs also assist physicians by revealing the location and size of the pleomorphic adenoma. A CT scan is also particularly helpful in showing whether or not the pleomorphic adenoma has intruded upon surrounding tissues.


    Treatment of pleomorphic adenoma depends on the size, location and stage of the tumor. Also, if it is benign or malignant tumor is a big consideration. Most pleomorphic adenoma is treated with surgery.

    Surgery of this type can be a particularly delicate operation due to the proximity to facial nerves and the potential to cause damage to them. Malignant tumors are sometimes also followed by radiation treatment. Unfortunately pleomorphic adenoma has a fairly high rate of recurrence. While the initial tumor is a single mass, recurring tumors can be multinodular.


    Prognosis for pleomorphic adenoma is generally good. 44% who have surgery have complete tumor removal. Unfortunately the recurrence rate is high and with that comes a mortality rate of approximately 87%.