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Oral Cancer

Is a Swelling at my Sublingual Salivary Gland a Symptom of Cancer?

07/31/2008

Question:

I noticed a pea sized swelling on my sublingual salivary gland. I was worried so went to have it checked, even though I thought it was related to eating sunflower seeds.

I went to a maxillofacial doctor and he could not find anything unusual and then to an ENT twice. They did few exams as well. The maxillofacial doctor took a few X-rays and did some kind of test to make sure I did not have a salivary stone.

HISTORY: The swelling occurred after habitually eating sunflower seeds for several months as my job required a lot of drive time. The area affected was immediately below where I would "crunch" the shell of the seed to eat it.

I am wondering with the seed usage, shell puncture, and then my probing, along with the doctor’s tests, if what I feel now is normal. The swelling went down from original pea size to a small B.B. size. It is near the front of my mouth on the bottom. There is no pain or other symptoms.

I am wondering if this is scar tissue that was built up for the "incident". There has been no change for 8 years but after reading about an article about a person with salivary cancer, I began to worry again. I don’t smoke. I chewed tobacco off and on when I was younger but have not touched tobacco for over 10 years.

Answer:

It sounds like you have undergone multiple evaluations by multiple qualified specialists. I do not know if I can add anything further about the cause of this, but in general, since this occurred 8 years ago and has improved and is stable, this would typically suggest a benign process.

If you are concerned, periodic evaluations by the specialists you mentioned is reasonable to monitor for change over time and any further recommendations.

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Response by:

Amit  Agrawal, MD Amit Agrawal, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University