Salivary Gland Cancer

About Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary gland cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. More than half of all salivary gland tumors are not cancerous and do not spread to other tissues. There are also hundreds of small minor salivary glands lining parts of the mouth, nose, and larynx that can be seen only with a microscope. Most small salivary gland tumors begin in the roof of the mouth.


Symptoms and signs of salivary gland cancer include painless lump(s) in the area of the ear, cheek, jaw, lips, or mouth and/or fluid draining from the ear, trouble swallowing, difficulty opening the mouth, numbness or weakness to the face, and/or facial pain. Factors that increase the risk of salivary gland cancer include older age, radiation therapy to the head and neck, or exposure to cancer-causing chemicals at work.

Cancer Stages

Salivary gland cancer has four stages: stage I being confined to the salivary glands and is 2 cm or smaller; stage II is larger than 2 cm but not larger than 4 cm; stage III has spread to a lymph node or to soft tissue around the affected gland; and stage IV has spread further.


Remission is when your cancer stops growing or the cells are gone but can come back.


Metastasis is when your cancer spreads to other body organs.


Surgery (removing the cancer in an operation) is a common treatment for salivary gland cancer. A doctor may remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around the cancer. Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.


Stage one has 91% of survival rate. Stage two has 75% of survival rate. Stage three has 65% of survival rate. Stage four has 39% of survival rate.

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