What is it?

Salivary gland cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the salivary glands' tissues. The salivary glands make saliva and release it into the mouth. Risk factors for developing salivary gland cancer include older age, exposure to certain types of radiation, and certain substances.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of salivary gland cancer vary depending on the area of the tumor and may include:
- A lump (usually painless) in the area of the ear, cheek, jaw, lip, or inside the mouth.
- Fluid draining from the ear.
- Trouble swallowing or opening the mouth widely.
- Numbness or weakness in the face.
- Pain in the face that does not go away.


Diagnosis is made through questioning and investigating medical history, list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Physical examination of the face and neck, oral cavity, chest, stomach, and maybe other systems to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. Another possible test includes:
- Endoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the throat and stomach and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the mouth.
- Biopsy – includes the insertion of a needle to the diseased area and extraction of a small sample for microscopic inspection.
- CT, MRI, or PET-scan – to look for metastases and define the size of the lesion.
- Blood testing.
If a diagnosis of salivary gland cancer is established, more tests would be conducted to determine the stage of the disease (stages I to IV).


Different types of treatment are available for patients with salivary gland cancer and may include:
- Surgery.
- Radiation therapy - a treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- Chemotherapy - a treatment that uses drugs to stop cancer cells' growth, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
- A combination of the above.
The choice of treatment depends on the patient's desire and the specific stage and area of the tumor.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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