(See also Overview of Head and Neck Tumors Overview of Head and Neck Tumors Head and neck cancer develops in almost 65,000 people in the United States each year. Excluding skin and thyroid cancers, > 90% of head and neck cancers are squamous cell (epidermoid) carcinomas... read more .)
If not initially detected on x-ray, jaw tumors are diagnosed clinically because their growth causes swelling of the face, palate, or alveolar ridge (the part of the jaw supporting the teeth). They can also cause bone tenderness and severe pain.
Bony outgrowths, termed exostoses (torus palatinus, torus mandibularis), may develop on the palate or mandible. These are common growths and may prompt concerns about cancer, although they are benign and of concern only if they interfere with dental care or function of the submandibular gland. When on the palate, they are in the midline and have intact, smooth mucosa.
Malignant jaw tumors
The most common tumor of the mandible and maxilla is squamous cell carcinoma invading the bone through dental sockets. These can involve any portion of the intraoral mandible or maxilla.
Osteosarcoma Osteosarcoma (osteogenic sarcoma) Primary malignant bone tumors are much less common than metastatic bone tumors, particularly in adults. Primary malignant bone tumors include multiple myeloma, osteosarcoma, adamantinoma, chondrosarcoma... read more , giant cell tumor Benign Bone Tumors and Cysts Benign bone tumors include benign giant cell tumors of bone, chondroblastomas, chondromyxoid fibromas, enchondromas, nonossifying fibromas, osteoblastomas, osteochondromas, and osteoid osteomas... read more , Ewing tumor, multiple myeloma Multiple Myeloma Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells that produce monoclonal immunoglobulin and invade and destroy adjacent bone tissue. Common manifestations include lytic lesions in bones causing... read more , and metastatic tumors Metastatic Bone Tumors Any cancer may metastasize to bone, but metastases from carcinomas are the most common, particularly those arising in the following areas: Breast Lung Prostate Kidney read more may affect the jaw. Treatment is the same as for those tumors in other bony sites.
Benign jaw tumors
Odontoma, the most common odontogenic tumor, affects the dental follicle or the dental tissues and usually appears in the mandibles of young people. Odontomas include fibrous odontomas and cementomas. A clinically absent molar tooth suggests a composite odontoma. Typically, these tumors are excised, particularly when the diagnosis is in doubt.
Ameloblastoma, the most common epithelial odontogenic tumor, usually arises in the posterior mandible. It is slowly invasive and rarely metastatic. On x-ray, it typically appears as multiloculated or soap-bubble radiolucency. Treatment is wide surgical excision and reconstruction if appropriate.