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Learn more about Parotid & Salivary Glands and other symptoms,
and how it can be treated here at NC TAN Surgery.

Location of major and minor salivary glands.

What is Parotid & Salivary Glands?

Salivary Glands are divided into 2 groups.

  1. Major salivary glands.

  • Comprises parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands.

  1. Minor salivary glands.

  • They are numerous (>1000) and are scattered throughout the mucosa of the upper aerodigestive tract.


Most salivary gland lumps are found in the major salivary glands, especially the parotid gland. Up to 80% of parotid lumps are benign. However, cancerous lumps in the submandibular and sublingual glands are more common. 50% of submandibular gland lumps and 75% of sublingual lumps are cancerous.

Signs & symptoms 

Most patients with salivary gland growths usually complain of a painless lump in the neck, near the jaw or in the oral cavity.


After careful physical examination, the following investigations will likely be performed.


  1. Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the neck.

    • These are scanning modalities where imaging of the concerned gland, together with its surrounding tissue and lymph nodes are done and assessed.

  2. Fine-needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC).

  • It is a form of biopsy where a small needle is passed into the lump in the salivary gland and cells are extracted for analysis by a pathologist.


Most lumps arising from salivary glands will require surgery. Salivary gland lumps diagnosed to be cancerous growths will require surgery. Radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy after surgery may be required. Certain benign salivary gland lumps can turn cancerous with time and thus undergoing surgery to remove them before cancer sets in, is recommended.

Surgeries to remove salivary glands can be done safely. The risk of permanent facial paralysis is approximately 1% when parotidectomy, the removal of the parotid gland and the most common salivary gland surgery, is performed by experienced surgeons.

Parotid and Salivary Glands Surgery
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