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East Afr Med J. 2003 Aug;80(8):429-34.

Salivary gland tumours in Tanzania.

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Faculty of Dentistry, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, P.O. Box 65014, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



To determine the pattern of occurrence of salivary gland tumours in Tanzania over a period of twenty years.


Cross-sectional retrospective study.


Two referral centres; Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC).


Medical records of patients who presented with tumours of the salivary glands in the two major referral centres over a period of twenty years from 1982 to 2001 were reviewed. Data regarding demographic, clinical and histologic information was analysed.


Salivary gland tumours constituted 6.3% of all oral-facial tumours and tumour like lesions. Among the salivary gland tumours, 54% were benign and 46% malignant, which occurred in 80 males and 53 females. Peak age was between 20 and 49 years, with a male-female ratio of 1.5:1 (p<0.05). Pleomorphic adenoma was the commonest occurring tumour (44.4%) followed by adenoid cystic carcinoma (24.8%), mucoepidermoid carcinoma (9.8%) and adenocarcinoma (6.5%). Among the benign tumours, pleomorphic adenoma dominated (83.9%), followed by adenoma (9.9%). Among malignant tumours adenoid cystic carcinoma occurred in 54.3% followed by mucoepidemoid carcinoma (22.9%) and adenocarcinoma (11.4%). The parotid gland was the commonest site of occurrence followed by the palate. At initial stages the only complaint from the patients was essentially a slowly growing painless swelling. Treatment modality was mainly surgical in both benign and malignant tumours, however, for malignant tumours radiotherapy alone or in combination with surgery was sometimes employed.


On average salivary gland tumours occurred at a relatively younger age compared to that reported in Western countries. Contrary to reports from Europe and America, adenoid cystic carcinoma was the most frequently occurring malignant salivary gland tumour. Late presentation was seen as a problem that needs to be addressed in order to maximise the effectiveness of treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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