Salivary gland cancer

Salivary gland cancer

Salivary glands cancer is a rare form of cancer. In most cases, benign tumors of the salivary glands.


The leading experts in ENT onco surgery:

Dr. Eitan Yaniv – Head of ENT department, Beilinson. Endoscopic surgery of the nose, throat and ear


Dr. Roy Lansberg – Expert endoscopic surgery of the nose, face, ear and throat, Sourasky Medical Center,  Tel Aviv


Prof. Dan Fliss – Head of ENT Department and neck problems, Sourasky Medical Center,  Tel Aviv


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Diagnosis and treatment of salivary gland cancer

The salivary glands produce saliva which maintains the moisture in the mouth and helps food to slide down the esophagus into the stomach. Most of the major salivary glands are located under the tongue (sublingual gland) from the mouth near the ears (parotid glands) and under the jaw (subglandular gland). There are also many other tiny glands in the mouth and throat.



The most common symptom is swelling of the salivary gland, swelling on the side of the face near the ears or under the jaw bone. Some patients suffer from numbness of one side of the face (facial paralysis).
These symptoms can also occur as a result of non-malignant diseases. However, as with most other types of cancer, the chance of recovery from the salivary gland cancer much more if it is diagnosed at an early stage.



After examination by a doctor will be performing blood tests, and other tests.

Ultrasound examination. This is an effective means for determining the size and location of the tumor. Ultrasound scanning uses sound waves to create a three-dimensional image of the internal body part. The test takes only a few minutes. Sometimes performed aspiration biopsy under ultrasound as part of the diagnosis.

Computed tomography (CT). This is a more complex form of x-ray studies, that creates a three-dimensional image of the internal body part. Scanning is painless but it takes a bit longer than standard x-rays (2-3 minutes). About an hour and a half before the test the patient should drink a contrast material. CT uses a very small amount of radiation, which causes no harm to the patient or the people around him. The contrast material may also be administered intravenously.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test is similar to CT, but instead uses magnetic rays to build a cross-sectional images of the body. Sometimes contrast material is administrated intravenously to improve the simulation results.


Biopsy. The doctor may use a fine needle to take a sample of cells from the abnormal area to examine them under a microscope. Histological studies will be ready in a few days.


Cancer stage  is a term used to describe the size and extent of the tumor beyond its original location.

Cancer can spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s defense against infection and disease. This system consists of a network of lymph nodes, interconnected by small channels containing lymph fluid. Doctor will check the lymph nodes in the area to determine the stage of the disease.
Step 1: The tumor is not more than 2 cm and has not yet started to spread.
Step 2: Tumor 2-4 cm in size and have not yet begun to spread.
Stage 3: Tumor more than 4 cm and may have spread to nearby tissues. It is also possible that the tumor had spread to the lymph node on one side of the neck.
Stage 4: The tumor has spread to the skin, bones and nerves. Cancer can affect lymph nodes on both sides of the neck and other parts of the body.
Staging refers to the detection of cancer cells on microscopic examination and provides general information about the rate of cancer development.



Salivary gland cancer can start developing in various cell types of the salivary glands and can grow slowly or fast. Tip treatment depends on several factors, including the location and stage of the cancer, type of cancer, and general condition of the patient. The following methods can be used individually or in combination.


Surgery. Surgery may be performed to remove salivary gland. The doctor discusses with the patient before surgery all possible side effects. Sometimes doctor may recommend surgery to remove the infected lymph nodes in the neck in order to avoid the spread of disease.


Radiotherapy. Sometimes the treatment of salivary gland cancer radiation therapy is used. During therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, when applied to minor damage to the extent possible, the normal cells. During and after radiotherapy, salivary glands produce less saliva and this may affect the way the human diet.


Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer (cytotoxic drugs) to destroy cancer cells. While chemotherapy is useful in the treatment of many types of cancer, it is rarely used in the treatment of cancer of the salivary gland.


Often in order to determine the most appropriate treatment for a particular patient, several experts work together as a team.

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