Jonas T. Johnson, MD | Authors

Management of Tumors of the Parapharyngeal Space

May 01, 1997

Benign and malignant tumors can arise from any of the structures contained within the parapharyngeal space. Such tumors are very rare, however. Also, malignant tumors from adjacent areas (eg, the pharynx) can extend into the parapharyngeal space by direct growth, or distant tumors may metastasize to the lymphatics within the space. Although the history and physical examination can provide clues to the site of origin and nature of a parapharyngeal space tumor, imaging studies are more useful for defining the site of origin and extent of the mass, as well as its vascularity and relationship to the great vessels of the neck and other neurovascular structures. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment. The surgical approach chosen should facilitate complete tumor extirpation with minimal morbidity. Irradiation is administered as primary therapy in patients with unresectable tumors, poor surgical candidates, and selected other patients. Radiation therapy is also used after surgery for high-grade malignancies or when wide surgical margins cannot be achieved. [ONCOLOGY 11(5):633-640, 1997]