The recurrent pleomorphic adenoma conundrum

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Purpose of reviewRecurrent pleomorphic adenoma (RPA) is uncommon. Treatment selection is based on the likely possibility of minimizing the risk of tumour recurrence, avoiding local functional and cosmetic sequelae, and eradicates the possibility of metastatic or malignant transformation. Much has changed since the topic was reviewed in 2001, and this manuscript comments on clinical progress and discusses patient treatment options.Recent findingsSurgery is the preferred treatment for head and neck pleomorphic adenoma. Over the recent decade the surgical radicality is favoured for parotid and submandibular gland pleomorphic adenoma, from total gland and tumour removal to endoscopic or minimal open extracapsular tumour excision. Currently molecular pathology and biomarker research has not identified any evidence that separates pleomorphic adenoma from RPA, thus supporting that tumour recurrence is likely associated with surgery. Revision surgery has been reported to be frequently noncurative depending on the extent of the primary surgery, with the added risk of local cosmetic and functional sequelae. Radiotherapy as a nonsurgical modality has advanced and has been shown to be effective in controlling, if not curing, high-risk patients who have identifiable prognostic factors of developing a recurrence and patients with RPA.SummaryCurrent surgical management of pleomorphic adenoma is associated with improved quality of life and minimal disturbance to cosmetic and functional. The reported incidence of RPA has been reduced by ‘expert surgeons’ but with limited short-term follow-up following more recent surgical modifications. Patients with RPA should be offered treatment that includes surgery and/or radiotherapy and should be encouraged to partake of this decision making process.

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