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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Salivary gland cancer, adult


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Overview

Salivary gland cancer is a rare disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the salivary glands. The salivary glands make saliva and release it into the mouth. Saliva has enzymes that help to digest food and antibodies that help protect against infections of the mouth and throat. There are 3 pairs of major salivary glands: the parotid glands, the sublingual glands, and the submandibular glands. The National Cancer Institute provides a picture of the anatomy of the salivary glands

Some risk factors for salivary gland cancer are older age, exposure to radiation of the head and/or neck area, and family history. Signs and symptoms of the disease may include: a lump near the ear, cheek, jaw, lip, or inside of the mouth; trouble swallowing; fluid draining from the ear; numbness or weakness in the face; and on-going pain in the face.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with salivary gland cancer. Some treatments are standard (currently used by physicians) and some are being tested in clinical trials (by researchers). It is suggested that patients with salivary gland cancer have their treatment planned and managed by a team of doctors who are experts in treating head and neck cancer. Although treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, typically the following three treatments are used: (1) surgery, (2) radiation therapy, and (3) chemotherapy. [1] [2]


Last updated: 6/1/2015

References

  1. Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment. National Cancer Institute. 10/08/2014; http://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/salivary-gland-treatment-pdq. Accessed 6/1/2015.
  2. Salivary Gland Cancer. American Cancer Society. 2015; http://www.cancer.org/cancer/salivaryglandcancer/detailedguide/index. Accessed 6/1/2015.
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Basic Information

  • The American Cancer Society has developed an information page on salivary gland cancer. Click on the link to view the information page.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Cancer Institute provides the most current information on cancer for patients, health professionals, and the general public.

In Depth Information

  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Salivary gland cancer, adult. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.