Salivary gland cancer

What is salivary gland cancer?
Salivary gland cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that affects the glands that produce saliva. Salivary glands found in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone.

What causes salivary gland cancer?
It’s not clear what exactly causes this type of cancer but several factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing it:
• Radiation to the head or neck (for cancerous or non-cancerous conditions)
• Infection by Eppstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get salivary gland cancer but can increase their chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of salivary gland cancer?
• Unusual pain in the face, chin or neck
• Swelling under the chin or around the jaw
• Numbness in the muscles of the face
• Trouble swallowing

How is salivary gland cancer diagnosed?
In order to accurately diagnose and stage salivary gland cancer, your physician may order the following tests:
• MRI scan to get a complete image of your head and neck to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• PET scan to find any malignant cancer cells
• CT scan to get a complete image of your head and neck to determine whether there are any tumors or abnormal cells
• Biopsy to remove any fluid or tissue and examine closely under a microscope for any abnormalities
• Chest x-ray to detect any spread of the tumor to the lungs
• Head and neck x-rays or ultrasounds

How is salivary gland cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

At KHCC, the treatment plan for salivary gland and/or oral cancer depends on many factors, such as the patient’s age, and the stage of the disease as well as the size of the tumor. Typically, treatment includes varying degrees of surgery, radiotherapy and some chemotherapy.

Primary voice restoration: In some treatment procedures for head and neck cancers, patients will experience a temporary loss of their voice, except for total laryngectomy where most lose their voice permanently. However the good news is the Head and Neck physicians at KHCC are the best in the region at performing a procedure known as Primary Voice Restoration and up to 90% of our patients recover their voice successfully.

At KHCC, salivary gland cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancers of the head and neck.

Supportive Care
The Head and Neck multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that salivary gland cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
Speech and language therapy
Dental evaluation and care