Learn About Salivary Gland Tumors

What is the definition of Salivary Gland Tumors?

Salivary gland tumors are abnormal cells growing in the gland or in the tubes (ducts) that drain the salivary glands.

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What are the alternative names for Salivary Gland Tumors?

Tumor - salivary duct

What are the different types of Salivary Gland Tumors?

Common conditions include: Acinic Cell Carcinoma of Salivary Glands

What are the causes of Salivary Gland Tumors?

The salivary glands are located around the mouth. They produce saliva, which moistens food to help with chewing and swallowing. Saliva also helps to protect teeth from decay.

There are 3 main pairs of salivary glands. The parotid glands are the largest. They are located in each cheek in front of the ears. Two submandibular glands are under the floor of the mouth under both sides of the jaw. Two sublingual glands are under the floor of the mouth. There are also hundreds of small salivary glands lining the rest of the mouth. These are called the minor salivary glands.

Salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth through ducts that open at various places in the mouth.

Salivary gland tumors are rare. Swelling of the salivary glands is mostly due to:

  • Major abdominal and hip repair surgeries
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Infections
  • Other cancers
  • Salivary duct stones
  • Salivary gland infections
  • Dehydration
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Sjögren syndrome

The most common type of salivary gland tumor is a slow-growing noncancerous (benign) tumor of the parotid gland. The tumor gradually increases the size of the gland. Some of these tumors can be cancerous (malignant).

What are the symptoms of Salivary Gland Tumors?

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Firm, usually painless swelling in one of the salivary glands (in front of the ears, under the chin, or on the floor of the mouth). The swelling gradually increases.
  • Difficulty moving one side of the face, known as facial nerve palsy.
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What are the current treatments for Salivary Gland Tumors?

Surgery is most often done to remove the affected salivary gland. If the tumor is benign, no other treatment is needed.

Radiation therapy or extensive surgery may be needed if the tumor is cancerous. Chemotherapy may be used when the disease has spread beyond the salivary glands.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Salivary Gland Tumors?

Most salivary gland tumors are noncancerous and slow growing. Removing the tumor with surgery often cures the condition. In rare cases, the tumor is cancerous and further treatment is needed.

What are the possible complications of Salivary Gland Tumors?

Complications from the cancer or its treatment may include:

  • Spread of the cancer to other organs (metastasis).
  • In rare cases, injury during surgery to the nerve that controls movement of the face.
When should I contact a medical professional for Salivary Gland Tumors?

Contact your provider if you have any of the following:

  • Pain when eating or chewing
  • You notice a lump in the mouth, under the jaw, or in the neck that does not go away in 2 to 3 weeks or is getting larger
Head and neck glands
What are the latest Salivary Gland Tumors Clinical Trials?
An Open-label Phase 2 Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Apalutamide in Combination With Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonist in Subjects With Locally Advanced or Recurrent/Metastatic and Androgen Receptor (AR) Expressing Salivary Gland Carcinoma

Summary: The purpose of the study is to evaluate the overall response rate (ORR) of apalutamide in combination with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist in participants with androgen receptor (AR) expressing locally advanced or recurrent/metastatic salivary gland carcinoma (SGC).

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A Phase II Trial of Neoadjuvant Nivolumab, Docetaxel, Cisplatin Therapy Followed by Surgery and Radiation Therapy for Resectable High Grade Salivary Gland Carcinoma

Objective: - Major pathologic response rate defined by ≤ 10% of tumor composed of viable tumor Secondary

What are the Latest Advances for Salivary Gland Tumors?
Role of postoperative radiotherapy in resected adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck.
Complete Response to Nivolumab of Resected Adenocarcinoma NOS With Parotid Gland Origin and Lung Metastasis.
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Phase II Study of Enzalutamide for Patients With Androgen Receptor-Positive Salivary Gland Cancers (Alliance A091404).
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: December 08, 2021
Published By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Jackson NM, Mitchell JL, Walvekar RR. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, , et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 83.

Markiewicz MR, Fernandes RP, Ord RA. Salivary gland disease. In: Fonseca RJ, ed. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 3rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2018:chap 20.

National Cancer Institute website. Salivary gland cancer treatment (adult) (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/adult/salivary-gland-treatment-pdq. Updated December 20, 2021. Accessed February 16, 2022.

Wang JR, Bell DM, Hanna EY. Benign neoplasms of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 84.