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Maxillary neoplasm
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Maxillary neoplasm

Contributors: Isabella Quadrini, Paul C. Bryson MD, MBA
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


A maxillary neoplasm is an abnormal growth of the maxilla, which includes the upper jaw, sections of the orbit, and the maxillary sinus. The neoplasm may be malignant or benign. Normally, the maxillary epithelium is pseudostratified, columnar, and ciliated, derived from the olfactory epithelium.

There are various forms of maxillary cancer, the most common being squamous cell carcinoma, followed by adenoid cystic carcinoma. Other possible types are adenocarcinoma, osteosarcoma, adenomatoid odontogenic keratocyst, Langerhans cell histiocytosis, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and malignant melanoma on rare occasions.

Maxillary cancer is about twice as common in men than women; it is also seen more in people aged 55 years and older, in Asian countries, and in White people. Patients with chronic sinusitis and those with the hereditary form of retinoblastoma have a higher risk of maxillary cancer. Other risk factors for this cancer include workplace exposure to certain chemicals (wood dusts, flour, leather dusts, formaldehyde, nickel, and chromium dust), tobacco use, human papillomavirus (HPV), and alcohol use.

Early findings may include maxillary pain, nasal obstruction, epistaxis, and teeth mobility. As the cancer progresses, facial edema, jaw / oral pain, paresthesias, epistaxis, dyspnea, dysphagia, weight loss, and diplopia can be seen. Surgery and reconstruction may be required.


C31.0 – Malignant neoplasm of maxillary sinus

126550004 – Neoplasm of maxilla

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Osteosarcoma
  • Osteoma
  • Adenomatoid odontogenic tumor – More common in females younger than 30 years; appears as a circumscribed, uniocular radiolucency under the tooth
  • Odontogenic keratocyst
  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Inverted papilloma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Myxoma – Found in young adults aged 25-30 years; located in the posterior mandible; can be multilocular or unilocular; is radiolucent with a "soap bubble" appearance
  • Paget disease – Most often occurs in middle-aged adults; usually impacts the middle third of the maxilla

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Last Reviewed:09/26/2022
Last Updated:10/25/2022
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Maxillary neoplasm
A medical illustration showing key findings of Maxillary neoplasm
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