Salivary Gland Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Options

Warning Signs and Symptomsof Salivary Gland Cancer

Common Salivary gland cancer symptoms can be:

  • Pain in the mouth
  • Change in vision
  • Obstruction or nasal congestion
  • Ulceration of the mucosa overlying the tumor
  • Loss of movement or paralysis of the face
  • Presence of tumors in the neck
  • Painless lump in the palace, lips or inside the mouth

These symptoms can also indicate the presence of a non-malignant (non-cancerous) tumor in the salivary glands. Only a health professional can establish the diagnosis with certainty after performing diagnostic procedures.

Diagnosis of Salivary Gland Tumor


An experienced oncologist may suspect the salivary tumor based on the symptoms reported by the patient and physical exam. But to be sure, in addition to clinical examination, the doctor will recommend to the patient to undergo an ultrasound and a CT scan or MRI to confirm the diagnosis. The diagnosis may also require biopsy for lab analysis of the specimen after surgical removal of sample taken from the diseased gland.

In case of confirmation of the cancerous nature of the tumor, staging will have to be determined by performing additional tests to demonstrate the existence of other cancerous cells in other locations of the body that would migrate into the lymph nodes via the lymphatic circulation, or spreading to distant organs.

Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment


Salivary gland cancer treatment is administered by cancer specialists or oncologists. A team of many professionals may work together: specialists in surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These doctors talk with the patient and consider many aspect of his condition to choose the best treatment plan.

The treatment plans are designed to meet the unique needs of the patient. In general, decisions regarding salivary gland cancer treatment are based on the stage of cancer, the grade of the cancer and location of the tumor. The health status of the patients is also taken in consideration. Conventionally, three forms of therapy are mostly used to fight salivary gland cancer:

Surgery – generally, cancer of the parotid requires surgical removal. A dissection of the lymph nodesis frequently associated with the surgery:

  • Superficial(or lateral)  parotidectomy surgical removal of a portion of the parotid gland, to treat a low-grade tumor that affects superficial part of the parotid gland.
  • Total parotidectomy – surgical removal of the deep part of the parotid gland, to treat tumor that rapidly invade the parotid gland.
  • Submandibular sialadenectomy– surgical excision of submandibular gland, for tumors of thesubmandibular gland.
    Lymphadenectomy(also called  lymph node dissection)  which is performed to removelymph nodes if the cancer has spread to them.
  • Wide excision– performed in the treatment of tumors of the sublingual gland and salivaryglands.

In advanced forms of salivary cancer, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be recommended.

Radiation Therapy– external radiotherapy may be used after surgery. In case surgery is not possible or if it would cause significant complications, radiation therapy can be used along with chemotherapy. It consists of using beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells in the salivary glands.

Chemotherapy – The importance of chemotherapy in salivary gland cancer has not been acknowledged by all cancer professionals; although some oncologists believe there is evidence of its efficacy in treating certain types of cancers of the salivary glands. Chemotherapy is mostly given to patients who decide to not undergo radiotherapy or surgery. It can also be used salivary gland cancer treatment to fight recurrent tumors or tumors that do not respond to surgery and radiotherapy.

Salivary Cancer Causes and Risk Factors


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