Back to Library
As the mouth is lined by stratified squamous
epithelium, with salivary gland tissue in the
submucosa, abnormalities of the salivary gland may present in the mouth.
The most frequent abnormality is a mucocele (or mucous retention cyst).
cystic nodules on the lower lip (mucosal aspect) are the result of obstruction
of the minor
labial salivary gland ducts, with cystic dilatation and retention of secretions.
frequently traumatized, with escape of mucoid secretion into the surrounding
tissues. A variant
of salivary mucocele occurs beneath the tongue, in association with the ducts of
and submandibular salivary glands, forming a large, thin-walled, bluish cyst,
Salivary calculi from the submandibular or parotid glands may produce a swelling
in the region
of the sites of emergence of their respective ducts into the mouth, i.e.
sublingual and buccal
regions. The swelling may be due to retained secretion or to the calculus (sialolith)
Calculus formation in the ducts of the major salivary glands leads to chronic
Calculi or inspissated secretions that form in the major salivary ducts lead to
the flow of salivary secretions. The back-pressure effects lead to dilatation of
the ducts and
atrophy of the salivary acini, associated with increased interstitial fibrosis
infiltrate. This is called chronic sialadenitis.
Salivary gland tumours
Salivary gland tumours are mainly benign, and most commonly affect the parotid
The parotid gland is the most common site for salivary gland tumours, under 25%
occurring in the
other large salivary glands (submandibular and sublingual) and the minor
salivary tissues of the
mouth. The most common tumour is the benign pleomorphic adenoma (formerly called
salivary tumour'), The peak incidence is in late middle-age and beyond, the
tumour presenting as a slow-growing, smooth,
painless swelling. Despite its apparent encapsulation, there may be small
nodules attached to
the main tumour which can be left behind at surgery if the main tumour is
shelled out without
a surrounding zone of normal salivary gland. This can lead to apparent
recurrence of this benign
tumour. Adequate surgical excision in the parotid may be difficult because of
the need to spare
the facial nerve, which runs between the deep and superficial parts of the
The second most common tumour is the monomorphic adenoma. This is behaviourally
to the pleomorphic adenoma, but has histological differences.
Warthin's tumour (adenolymphoma) is almost entirely confined to the parotid
usually occurring in the lower border of the parotid, near the angle of the
It is most common in middle-aged men and presents as a painless, spherical,
tumour, which may fluctuate in size. Larger tumours may be fluctuant because of
necrosis or due to the presence of mucin. Histologically the tumour is unusual,
epithelial component of tall eosinophilic columnar cells forming clefts and
within lymphoid tissue containing germinal centres.
Malignant tumours of salivary tissue are rare and are particularly important
in the intraoral minor salivary tissue
The most common malignant salivary tumour is the adenoid cystic carcinoma.
It can occur in the major salivary glands, such as parotid
and submandibular glands, but is proportionally more common in the intraoral
salivary tissue, e.g. the palate. A slow-growing but locally invasive tumour,
it frequently ulcerates in its intraoral location. Although it metastasizes
late, the tumour has a poor prognosis because of its very extensive local
with a particular tendency to grow in the peri-neural spaces. The tumour often
extends considerably further than is apparent to the naked eye, and primary
excision is often unsuccessful in eradicating the tumour entirely, so further
recurrence is very frequent. This, combined with poor radiosensitivity, makes
of this tumour difficult. The second operation for recurrence frequently
radical and disfiguring orofacial surgery.
Two less common malignant tumours of salivary tissue are:
• Mucoepidermoid carcinoma, which arises mainly in the parotid in elderly people, occasionally developing in the palate. These lesions are of variable malignancy:
some behave like pleomorphic adenoma, others are
more aggressive from the outset.
• Acinic cell carcinoma occurs mainly in the parotid in the middle-aged and elderly, and is more common in women than in men. It is sometimes called 'acinic cell tumour' because the majority behave in a benign fashion like pleomorphic adenoma, only rarely showing extensive local infiltration and lymph node metastasis.
Interested in translating health topics to somali language!
We give here simplified and accurate information about the disease
DISCLAIMER: This website is provided for
general information and it's run by medical students for medical students only
and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We are not responsible
or liable for any diagnosis or action made by a user based on the content of
this website. We are not liable for the contents of any external websites
listed, nor do we endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised
on any of the sites. Always consult your own doctor if you are in any way
concerned about your health