Salivary Gland Cancer

by Sam Malone

The salivary glands are based behind and under the jaw, and various tiny minor salivary glands inside the cheeks, lips and throughout the mount and throat. These glands produce saliva, keep our mouth moist and help in mastication and swallowing.

Salivary gland cancer or oral cancer is rare like other head and neck cancers, people getting affected with salivary gland cancer are often older than 50 years. The type of salivary gland cancer will depend on the type of cell that has become cancerous.

Factors that might increase the risk of getting salivary gland cancer include, exposure to radiation (that can cause damage to the DNA), tobacco abuse and family history, however the exact cause is not clear making its prediction difficult.

Salivary gland cancer is best treated when it’s at an early stage. Report any of the following signs and symptoms to a specialist to avoid further complications.
  • The very first sign of salivary cancer is a painless swelling or lump at the side, under the jawbone, in front of the ears.
  • Face numbness, especially near the salivary glands.
  • Muscle weakness on any side of the face.
  • Any prolonged pain, near or in the salivary gland.

Diagnosis

A list of tests may follow after a specialist has physically examined the patient. These may include tests like
  • X-ray – detects approximate size and position of the lump.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan – determines exact size of the tumor by passing a series of thin X-ray beams that creates two-dimensional view of the organ.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) - uses magnetic and radio waves created by a computer.
  • Biopsy – tissue sample detection under the microscope.
Depending on the results the cancer is graded and identified on which stage it is and how far it has spread.

Treatment

Treatment for salivary gland cancer will depend on various factors involving the position of the cancer, exact type and size of the cancer and the general well-being of the patient. The following type of treatment could be used individually or in combination.
  • Surgery – removing the tumor with the help of a surgical procedure alone may be able to remove the cancer, if it is low grade and restricted to the salivary gland.
  • Radiotherapy – destroys the cancer cells using high-energy X-rays.
  • Chemotherapy is used occasionally in treating salivary gland cancer due to its low potential to treat the disease.
  • Physical therapy – involves how to deal with difficulties such as chewing, swallowing, speaking or breathing post surgery. 
  • Reconstruction therapy – this may involve reconstruction of the tissues or bones that are lost in the surgery. A patient might need skin grafts, dental prosthesis or rebuilt areas in throat, jaw or mouth. 
Learn to cope with the cancer and prevent or avoid its progression by eliminating the risk factors altogether.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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