Salivary Gland Cancer
Salivary gland cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of a salivary gland. The salivary glands are classified as major and minor. The major salivary glands consist of the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. The minor glands include small mucus-secreting glands located throughout the palate, nasal and oral cavity. Salivary gland cancer is rare, with 2% of head and neck tumors forming in the salivary glands, the majority in the parotid.
Doctors don't always know what causes salivary gland cancer, but there are some risk factors that seem to be linked to it. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person's age or race, can't be changed. These risk factors make a person more likely to get salivary gland cancer: * Radiation: Radiation treatment to the head and neck area or work exposure to certain radioactive substances can increase risk. * Work: Some studies suggest that working with certain products, such as nickel alloy dust or silica dust, may increase the risk of this cancer, but these links are not certain. * Diet: Some studies have found that a diet high in animal fat and low in vegetables could increase risk. More research is needed to confirm this. * Cell phones: One recent study suggested an increased risk of parotid gland tumors in heavy cell phone users. In this study, most of the tumors seen were benign (not cancer). Other studies looking at this issue have not found such a link. Research is still being done in this area. If there is any excess risk, it could be decreased by using corded or cordless earpieces that move the phone away from the user's head and decrease the amount of radiation that reaches the body.
Signs and symptoms of salivary gland cancer: * Swelling of the salivary glands * Pain in the salivary glands * Facial tingling or numbness * Weakness in facial muscles (caused by tumor affecting nerve pathways in the face) * Difficulty swallowing * Difficulty opening the mouth widely * Ulcer, lump, or bump on the lips, inside of the mouth, or inside of the cheek
The recommended treatment is…