Mucoepidermoid carcinoma differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Badria Munir M.B.B.S.[2] , Maria Fernanda Villarreal, M.D. [3]


Mucoepidermoid carcinoma must be differentiated from other diseases that cause painless swelling, facial deformity, and facial numbness, such as Warthin's tumor, adenoid cystic carcinoma, benign mixed tumor (salivary glands), and metastasis.

Differential Diagnosis

  • The table below summarizes the findings that differentiate mucoepidermoid carcinoma from other conditions that cause painless swelling, facial deformity, and facial numbness or weakness.[1][2]
Differential Diagnosis Similar Features Differentiating Features
Benign mixed tumor (salivary glands) Painless parotid swelling and facial deformity Histopathological findings
Warthin's tumor Painless swelling and facial deformity Multicentric presentation (20%), usually small in size (1-4 cm), highly associated with smoking
Adenoid cystic carcinoma Local swelling Mainly occur in relation to the airways, tendency for perineural extension, distribution
Metastasis Painless swelling, facial deformity, and facial numbness. In metastasis, differentiating features include: primary tumor origin and histopathological findings.


  1. Eversole LR (1970). "Mucoepidermoid carcinoma: review of 815 reported cases". J Oral Surg. 28 (7): 490–4. PMID 5269211.
  2. Mucoepidermoid carcincoma. Dr Ayush Noel. Radiopedia. Accessed on February 19, 2016