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Head and Neck Cancer

Should Parotid Gland Tumor Be Removed?



I was told today that I have a 9mm nodule on my parotid. The ENT told me it had to be removed and told me the process. He then went to get the surgeon to introduce me. The surgeon said he wouldn`t recommend removing it, rather wait for 2 months to see if it gets bigger. In the research I have done, it seems the only alternative is removal. I don`t know which to do.


This is not an unusual situation. You did not mention if this is something that you can feel. A nodule in the parotid (salivary gland) is never normal regardless of size. Most often the lump is a parotid tumor that could either be benign or malignant. The treatment for both is surgical removal. Having said that, occasionally you can have a lymph node that is reactive and it can go down in time. A needle biopsy can be done to help with the diagnosis and help determine the proper course of action. To wait 2 months may allow for reduction of this lump in case of inflammation and avoid surgery. Even in the presence of a tumor, the delay would not be significant. If it does not reduce in size, at least a needle biopsy or resection should be part of the plans. Obviously, if in the mean time the nodule increases in size, the biopsy or the resection should be considered sooner.

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Response by:

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University