A Guide to Clinical Differential Diagnosis of Oral Mucosal Lesions
Table 4. Soft Tissue Enlargements

Course Author(s): Author: Michael W. Finkelstein, DDS, MS; Emily Lanzel, DDS, MS; John W. Hellstein, DDS, MS

Table 4. Soft Tissue Enlargements

Reactive Tumors
Regress, resolve Persistent and progressive
Often symptomatic Often asymptomatic
Growth rate: hours, days, weeks Growth rate: weeks, months, years
Fluctuate in size Persistent & progressive
Sometimes associated with tender, soft lymph nodes Lymph nodes not enlarged unless associated with metastatic cancer; then they are firm & non-tender
Sometimes associated with systemic manifestations Systemic manifestations occur late in the course of cancer
Benign Tumors Malignant Neoplasms
Slow growth: months, years Rapid growth: weeks, months
Overlying mucosa is usually normal unless traumatized Overlying mucosa more likely to be ulcerated
Often not fixed to surrounding structures Fixed to surrounding structures
May move teeth May loosen teeth
Asymptomatic More likely to be painful
Well circumscribed Poorly circumscribed