ABSTRACT Salivary gland tumours (SGT) are rare, comprising about 5% of head and neck tumours with a higher incidence reported in the western compared with the African centres. There are few studies on SGTs that have been conducted in Africa. A descriptive retrospective study was done to describe the demographic characteristics, site distribution and histological patterns of SGT at a University teaching hospital in Kenya over a 12-year-duration. There were 132 SGTs out of 2426 biopsies of head and neck tumours, the age range was between 8 to 80 years (mean = 43.6 yrs) and the modal age was 50 yrs. The percentage of tumours arising from minor salivary glands (MiSG) (67%) were twice than that from the major salivary glands (MaSG) (33%). The sites most affected for the Misg was the palate and for the MaSG was the submandibular gland. Pleomorphic salivary adenoma (PSA) (40.2%) was the most common benign SGT while adenoid cystic carcinoma) (ACC) (20.5%) was the most frequent amongst the malignant type. The overall male: female ratio was almost 1:1. However, there were more females than males with benign SGTs, whereas an equal gender distribution was noted in malignant SGT. Benign and malignant SGT occur at a younger age. MiSGs of the palate were most frequent site of tumour and the least frequent is the sublingual gland. More than 50% of SGT were malignant and hence any SGT should raise a high index of suspicion.
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