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Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary gland cancers begin in the salivary glands of your mouth, cheek, neck or throat. Salivary glands release saliva into your mouth and throat to help digest food and protect against infection.

It is important to note that a growth within a salivary gland or increase in the size of a salivary gland is not necessarily cancer. Changes in a salivary gland can be caused by infections (bacteria and viruses), stones that block up the ducts and make the glands swell, inflammatory problems, systemic diseases or benign (non-cancerous) tumors.

In other words, just because you have an obvious lump or bump (even a tumor) in a salivary gland does not mean it is cancer. As a general rule, larger salivary glands have a lesser chance that a lump within it is cancer. In fact, most tumors of the salivary gland are actually benign and can include any of the following:1Eveson JW, Auclair PL, Gnepp DR, et al. Tumors of the salivary glands: introduction. In: Barnes EL, Eveson JW, Reichart P, Sidransky D, editors. World Health Organization classification of tumours: pathology & genetics. Head and neck tumours. Lyon: IARCPress; 2005.

  • Pleomorphic adenoma
  • Myoepithelioma
  • Basal cell adenoma
  • Warthin tumour
  • Oncocytoma
  • Canalicular adenoma
  • Sebaceous adenoma
  • Lymphadenoma
  • Sebaceous
  • Non-sebaceous
  • Ductal papillomas
  • Inverted ductal papilloma
  • Intraductal papilloma
  • Sialadenoma papilliferum
  • Cystadenoma
  • Hemangioma
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References

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18 Eveson JW, Auclair PL, Gnepp DR, et al. Tumors of the salivary glands: introduction. In: Barnes EL, Eveson JW, Reichart P, Sidransky D, editors. World Health Organization classification of tumours: pathology & genetics. Head and neck tumours. Lyon: IARCPress; 2005. p. 220–1.

19 Agulnik M, McGann CF, Mittal BB, Godon SC, Epstein JB. Management of salivary gland malignancies: current and developing therapies. Oncol Rev (2008) 2:86–94.

20 Eveson JW, Auclair PL, Gnepp DR, et al. Tumors of the salivary glands: introduction. In: Barnes EL, Eveson JW, Reichart P, Sidransky D, editors. World Health Organization classification of tumours: pathology & genetics. Head and neck tumours. Lyon: IARCPress; 2005.

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30 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2014. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2014. All rights reserved. Accessed June 18, 2014. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.NCCN.org. NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK®, NCCN®, NCCN GUIDELINES®, and all other NCCN Content are trademarks owned by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc.