For Emergencies Call: 954-584-1030

Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary Gland Cancer

Are you at risk for salivary gland cancer?

Salivary gland cancer is more common in men than women and the risk goes up as you get older. Radiation treatment to the head and neck area for other medical reasons also increase your risk of salivary gland cancer in addition to workplace exposure to certain radioactive substances. And very rarely, members of some families seem to have a higher than usual risk of developing salivary gland cancers, but most people who are diagnosed do not have a family history of this disease.

What is salivary gland cancer?

Salivary gland tumors are abnormal cells growing in the gland or in the tubes (ducts) that drain the salivary glands. Salivary glands produce saliva that empty into the mouth through ducts that open at various places, which moistens food to help with chewing and swallowing. Salivary gland tumors are rare, and although the medical community is not completely clear of the cause, some contributing medical factors are:
Abdominal surgery
Cirrhosis of the liver
Infections
Other cancers
Salivary duct stones
Dehydration

The most common type of salivary gland tumor is a slow-growing benign (noncancerous) tumor of the parotid gland, the largest of the glands which are located in each cheek in front of the ears. The tumor gradually increases the size of the gland. Some of these tumors can be malignant (cancerous).

Do you know the symptoms of salivary tumors and cancer?

Symptoms include firm, usually painless swelling or lumps 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.  You may also experience sensory loss, ulceration, difficulty opening the jaw and numbness or weakness moving one side of the face, known as facial nerve palsy.  

When to call your dentist or provider?

If you have signs or symptoms please contact Dr. Finkelstein at My Plantation Dentist immediately to arrange an appointment at (954) 584-1030.  Tests that examine the head, neck, and the inside of the mouth are used to find and diagnose salivary gland cancer. The doctor will begin with a physical exam and history to check general signs of health. The head, neck, mouth, and throat will be checked for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual.  The next step in diagnosing would be having an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI) completed followed by a CT scan (CAT scan). If the physician is confident in your potential diagnosis, you will most likely be scheduled for several additional tests including imaging and tissue samples to confirm diagnosis, provide prognosis and determine a treatment plan.  

What’s the standard treatment plan?

Surgery is most often done to remove the affected salivary gland. If the tumor is benign, no other treatment is needed.  If the tumor is cancerous, extensive surgery may be needed in addition to radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.  

Should you be experiencing any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above please contact My Plantation Dentist immediately at (954) 584-1030.  We will quickly schedule you for an appointment for a full exam.  

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