Parotid gland tumours: a clinicopathological review at the University of Witwatersrand

Background: Parotid tumours constitute a highly heterogeneous group. The pattern of parotid tumours in South Africa has not been extensively reported. Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe and analyse the clinical presentation and the histopathology of the parotid tumours in the Division of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery at the academic hospitals of the University of Witwatersrand. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 71 patients who underwent parotid surgery for parotid tumours from January 2006 to December 2010. Data including age, gender, clinical signs, symptoms and histological findings were collected. Results: Of the 71 patients, 46 (64.78%) had benign tumours and 25 (35.22%) had malignant tumours. The most common benign tumour was pleomorphic adenoma (76.09%) and the most common malignant tumour was mucoepidermoid carcinoma (52%). The clinical findings did carry a significant importance in the malignant-benign differentiation especially the presence of pain (p=0.002) and facial weakness (p=0.003). Conclusion: Pleomorphic adenoma was the commonest benign parotid tumour and mucoepidermoid carcinoma was the most malignant tumour. The malignant-benign ratio was comparable to other African series. The presenting symptoms of pain and facial weakness were found to be strong indicators of malignant disease.