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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Warthin tumor

Other Names for this Disease
  • Papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum (formerly)
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Your Question

I was diagnosed with Warthin tumor and was told it is a common tumor.  We are going to watch and see if it keeps growing.  Can this turn into cancer?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is a Warthin tumor?

Warthin tumor is an unusual growth of cells (tumor) in a salivary gland.  The first symptom is usually a painless, slow-growing bump in front of the ear, on the bottom of the mouth, or under the chin.[1][2]  Warthin tumors may increase in size over time, but few become cancerous.  Though the cause is currently unknown, smoking is believed to increase the chance of developing Warthin tumor.  Treatment may consist of surgery to remove the tumor or careful observation to watch for changes in the tumor over time.[1]
Last updated: 10/10/2012

Can a Warthin tumor become a cancer?

Warthin tumors are almost always benign.  However, it is estimated that 0.3-0.5% of Warthin tumors become cancerous (malignant).[1][3]
Last updated: 10/10/2012

What treatments are available for a Warthin tumor?

Currently, there are no established guidelines for the treatment of Warthin tumor.  Treatment often includes surgery to remove the tumor.  Another approach is to observe a Warthin tumor over time to watch for any changes.[1]
Last updated: 10/10/2012

How common is Warthin tumor?

Salivary gland tumors affect 3 out of every 100,000 people each year.[4]  Approximately 14-30% of these individuals are diagnosed with a Warthin tumor.[1]
Last updated: 10/10/2012