A Warthin's tumor, also referred to as papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum, is a type of benign, or non-cancerous, tumor that affects the salivary glands. Common symptoms of a Warthin's tumor include swelling in the neck that may or may not cause tenderness or discomfort, ringing in the ears, and impaired hearing. This condition is more prevalent in males than in females and is thought to have a strong connection to smoking. Treatment typically involves surgical removal of the tumor, and it is not likely that the tumor will return after removal. Any questions or concerns about a Warthin's tumor should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
When this type of tumor is present, the patient often notices swelling near the back portion of the lower jaw on the affected side of the neck. In many cases, there are no other symptoms present, although the swelling may sometimes cause a feeling of pressure or discomfort. The patient may develop ringing in the ears or experience some degree of hearing loss due to pressure placed on the surrounding tissue and nerves. In rare cases, the facial nerve may become partially or completely paralyzed, especially if the tumor is large.
Men who are over 50 years old and who smoke are the most prone to developing the condition, although it can be experienced by anyone at any age. The tumor tends to grow very slowly and may go undiagnosed unless it grows large enough to cause problems. The first symptom is typically a small noticeable lump on the neck that does not go away. Over time, the tumor may grow large enough to start causing discomfort, prompting the patient to seek medical attention.
Fluid from the Warthin's tumor may occasionally leak into surrounding tissue, causing increased swelling and a sudden onset of pain. Infection may develop as a result of the leak, necessitating the use of prescription antibiotics. The standard treatment for a Warthin's tumor is surgical removal, especially if any negative side effects are present. Some doctors will recommend surgical removal of the tumor, even if there are no uncomfortable symptoms present, due to the slight chance of the tumor becoming cancerous. It is important to discuss individualized treatment options with a doctor.
It is extremely rare for the tumor to return once it has been removed, although any recurrence of the swelling should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. A small sample of the tissue from the tumor is usually sent to a laboratory for additional testing to make sure that no cancerous cells are found. In the rare cases where malignancies are found, the doctor will discuss additional treatment options, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, with the patient.