Non-cancerous tumours and conditions of the oropharynx

A non-cancerous (benign) tumour of the oropharynx is a growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous tumours are not usually life-threatening. They are typically removed with surgery and do not usually come back (recur).

Non-cancerous tumours

The following are some types of non-cancerous oropharyngeal tumours.

  • A papilloma is a smooth lump or wart-like growth.
  • A benign tumour of the minor salivary glands is a growth that develops in the minor salivary glands. These glands are on the inner surface of the pharynx (throat).
  • A hemangioma is a growth made up of dilated (enlarged or widened) blood vessels.
  • A lymphangioma is a growth made up of dilated lymph vessels.
  • A lipoma is a growth made up of fat cells.
  • A fibroma is a growth that starts in the tissue that surrounds and supports various organs in the body (called fibrous connective tissue).
  • A neuroma is a growth that starts in nerve cells (neurons).

Non-cancerous conditions

A non-cancerous condition of the oropharynx is a change to oropharyngeal cells, but it is not cancer. Non-cancerous conditions do not spread to other parts of the body and are not usually life-threatening.

A retention cyst is the most common type of non-cancerous condition in the oropharynx. It is a sac filled with fluid or semi-solid material. It may start from a blocked mucous gland in the pharyngeal wall. Large retention cysts are sometimes treated with surgery.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer. 2014: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer.html.
  • Beadle BM, Rosenthal DI . Multidisciplinary management of oropharynx carcinomas. Bernier J (ed.). Head and Neck Cancer: Multimodality Management. Springer; 2016: 27: 475 - 510.
  • Mourad WF, Hu KS, Choi WH, et al . Cancer of the oropharynx: General principles and management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, Kies MS (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 17A: 373 - 414.