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  • Warthin’s Tumor

    Warthin’s tumor is a benign tumor that forms in the salivary glands. It is also known as a papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum or an adenolymphoma.

    While the cause is not 100% understood, there is a strong relation to smoking.

    Smokers are eight times more likely to develop a Warthin’s tumor than non-smokers. Warthin’s tumors develop on the parotid gland and they are the second most common parotid tumor. Specialists who treat Warthin’s tumors are Otolaryngologists.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Warthin’s tumors often grow very slowly and show no symptoms. Starting as benign tumors they very rarely become malignant. In fact, this happens in only .3% of all cases. These tumors may result in the formation of a mass in the neck. The mass may change in size over time, growing larger and smaller. The mass can sometimes cause pain and pressure. It can also rupture and this leads to inflammation.


    Warthin’s tumors are most often seen in smokers who are age 60 – 70. In the past there was a difference in the number of men and women affected, and in the race of those affected, but recently this ratio has evened out. They are diagnosed by physical examination, MRI, CT scans, and biopsies of the affected cells. In recent years dynamic MRI and FNA (fine-needle aspiration) are both techniques that have grown in popularity for best diagnosing Warthin’s tumors.


    Since Warthin’s tumors are benign and often asymptomatic treatment sometimes consists of doing nothing except observing the tumor. The other common treatment option is surgery to remove the tumor. There is some controversy as to which treatment option is best so it is important that patients receive an accurate and definitive diagnosis.


    Prognosis for patients with Warthin’s tumors is very good. If the patient does decide to remove the tumor recurrence is extremely rare, occurring in only 6% – 12% of cases.