Parotid glands often go unnoticed but contribute meaningfully to your ability to eat. They produce watery saliva which keeps your mouth moist, helps in the breakdown of food and aids in lubrication to help with swallowing. They are also a common location for tumors or growths, which is why it is important to understand their location and what to do if you notice a “bump” on your cheek.
Your parotid glands are two glands that are below and in front of your ears, one on each side. They are salivary glands, meaning that they help your body produce saliva that’s used to assist in chewing and digesting food. Between the two lobes of the gland is the facial nerve which is responsible for controlling facial movements.
Like other organs, your parotid glands can develop masses known as tumors. These tumors can either be benign (non-cancerous and not able to spread) or malignant (cancerous and likely to spread). Benign tumors are much more common in this location. Of the two types, malignant tumors can be considered low grade or high grade based on how aggressive they are.
Signs that you may have a parotid gland tumor include:
Treating a parotid gland tumor is a multi-tiered approach based on whether or not the tumor is benign or malignant. First, you will undergo a physician examination of your face to make note of any of the aforementioned symptoms. You may also receive a combination of imaging testing to determine the size and location of the tumor. A biopsy might be recommended for additional information. From there, your physician may recommend a partial removal of the parotid gland (superficial parotidectomy) or a full removal (total parotidectomy) with a follow-up appointment for further action.
Dr. Jason Barnes, a CEENTA otolaryngologist who practices out of our Mooresville office, goes into further detail about parotid gland tumors and their subsequent treatments. “Parotid gland tumors are very often asymptomatic, apart from a small bump of the cheek or jaw line. Prompt evaluation is helpful for a quick diagnosis. A vast majority of these tumors are benign, but often require surgical removal. Surgery is often outpatient and patients do quite well with minimal scarring and complete removal of the tumor."
A parotid gland tumor might seem scary at first, but CEENTA is here to help. Our team of board-certified surgeons can examine your tumor and provide the surgical options you need to get on the road to recovery. Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Barnes at our Mooresville office online at ceenta.com/appointments.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. If you need an appointment with an ENT doctor in one of our North or South Carolina locations, you can schedule appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
CEENTA otolaryngologist Jason Barnes, MD, appeared on WSOC's Daily Two on April 18, 2023 to discuss the parotid gland and parotid gland conditions.