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Recurrent Tumors Of The Parotid Gland


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My History Of Parotid Tumors

In 1990 I discovered a pea size lump on the right side of my face.  It was located  about an inch below and slightly in front of the ear lobe.  My family doctor referred me to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor who, upon examination, recommended  surgical removal.  The tumor turned out to be about 2 cm in size and deeper than expected.  The surgeon removed a good deal of the parotid gland, taking healthy tissue around the tumor in order to ensure complete removal.  The operation went well, and I returned to work after only a few days off.  Pathology indicated the tumor was benign pleomorphic adenoma. If not for the dent left in the side of my face, the entire experience would have been completely forgotten over the following eleven years.

In July of 2001 I again noticed a lump on the right side of my face.  This time it was located directly in front of my ear lobe and seemed to be about 1 cm in size.  I went to my family doctor (new doctor because I had relocated) who suggested it may go away.  I pointed out my history and asked to be referred to ENT.  The ENT doctor took a fine needle biopsy (FNA) in his office, arranged a CT scan and scheduled surgery two weeks out. During the two weeks before surgery I sought a second opinion and did quite a bit of internet research.  The second opinion by another ENT office, as well as all my internet research, was to have the tumor removed.  The FNA was inconclusive and the tumor did not show on the CT scan.

During surgery, two tumors were found sandwiching the facial nerve.  Both were removed and the pathology report indicated they were again benign pleomorphic adenoma.  Due to their close proximity to the facial nerve, the surgery resulted in complications.  The seventh branch of the nerve was partially severed and then repaired.  This has resulted in Bells Palsy type paralysis of the right side of my face.  The surgeon believes this is temporary but will take a year to heal.  I can grin, but can't make a "toothy smile".  I've lost all movement of my nose, eye lid, eye brow and forehead on the right side.

The surgeon has recommended radiation therapy to kill off any remaining tumor cells.  He is recommending this because the chances of recurrence increase with each surgery, possible difficulties with the facial nerve and scar tissue with future surgery, he could not remove healthy tissue around the tumor because that involved the nerve and all of the parotid gland had been removed, and because the tumor has shown its ability to return.

3 Month Update

I've added an update describing the status of my complication 3 months after the surgery.  It can be found at the bottom of the "2nd Parotidectomy" page.  


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