Site age and sex distribution

Between 64 and 80% of all primary epithelial salivary gland tumours occur in the parotid gland with most located in the superficial (lateral) lobe; 7-11% occur in the submandibular glands; fewer than 1% occur in the sublingual glands; and 9-23% occur in minor glands {669,679, 703,2301,2439}. Benign tumours represent 54-79%, and 21-46% are malignant. The proportion of malignant tumours, however, varies greatly by site. Malignant tumours comprise 15-32% of parotid tumours, 41-45% of submandibular tumours, 70-90% of sublingual tumours, and 50% of minor gland tumours. Eighty to 90% of tumours that occur in the tongue, floor of mouth, and retromolar areas are malignant. Females are more frequently affected, but there is some gender variation according to the tumour type. The average ages of patients with benign and malignant tumours are 46 and 47 years, respectively, and the peak incidence of most of the specific types is in the sixth and seventh decades. However, the highest incidence of pleo-morphic adenomas, mucoepidermoid carcinomas, and acinic cell carcinomas is in the third and fourth decades. In patients under 17 years of age, the frequency of mesenchymal tumours of the major glands is similar to that of epithelial tumours {1304,1413,2302,2337}. In this age group, pleomorphic adenomas, mucoepidermoid carcinomas and acinic cell carcinomas account for about 90% of epithelial tumours, and the frequency of benign and malignant tumours is essentially equal.

Among all patients, the most common tumour type is pleomorphic adenoma, which accounts for about 50% of all tumours. Warthin tumour is second in frequency among benign tumours and, in most large studies, mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common malignant tumour {669,679,703,2301,2439}. Most canalicular adenomas and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinomas arise from minor glands whereas nearly all Warthin tumours occur in the parotid gland or peri-parotid lymph nodes.

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