Obtaining reliable pre-operative diagnosis is crucial in planning treatment for patients with salivary gland tumors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of pre-operative clinical diagnosis of salivary gland tumors managed at a single tertiary university hospital over a period of 20 years. A retrospective analysis of the period between 1992 and 2011 was carried out to review the cases of patients with salivary gland tumors. A total of 101 patients were enrolled and general data were described. Clinical diagnosis was compared with the final pathological diagnosis to reveal the clinical diagnostic accuracy. Of the parotid and submandibular gland tumors, 86 and 67% were benign, respectively. The clinical diagnostic accuracies for diagnosis of parotid tumors as benign or malignant were 100 and 57%, respectively. The clinical diagnostic accuracies for diagnosis of submandibular tumors as benign or malignant were 67%. Therefore, the overall clinical judgment of benign and malignant tumors in the submandibular gland is unreliable. The accuracy for a parotid tumor to be clinically interpreted as benign was 100%. While it is difficult to draw any conclusion for non-parotid gland tumors, surgical intervention should be recommended in patients with parotid tumors clinically suspected to be malignant, and all submandibular, sublingual and minor salivary gland tumors.
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