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Alternative Names Return to topTumor - salivary duct
Definition Return to top
Salivary gland tumors are abnormal cells growing in the ducts that drain the salivary glands.
Causes Return to top
The salivary glands are located around the mouth. They produce saliva, which moistens food to aid chewing and swallowing.
Saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestion process, and help cleanse the mouth by washing away bacteria and food particles. By keeping the mouth moist, saliva helps to keep dentures, retainers, or other orthodontic appliances in place.
There are three pairs of major salivary glands. The largest are the parotid glands, located in each cheek over the jaw in front of the ears. Two submandibular glands are at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw. Two sublingual glands are under the floor of the mouth.
All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth through ducts that open at various locations in the mouth.
Salivary gland tumors are rare, especially in children. Swelling of the salivary glands is most commonly due to:
The most common type of salivary duct tumor is a slow-growing tumor of the parotid gland. This is usually a noncancerous growth that gradually increases the size of the gland. However, some of these tumors can be cancerous (malignant).
Malignant salivary gland tumors are usually carcinomas.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
An examination by a health care provider or dentist shows a larger than normal salivary gland, usually one of the parotid glands.
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
The recommended treatment is usually surgery to remove the affected salivary gland. If the tumor is noncancerous (benign), no other treatment is usually needed. Surgery on the parotid gland usually helps maintain the function of the nerve that controls the muscles of the face.
Radiation therapy or extensive surgery may be required if the tumor is cancerous. Chemotherapy is sometimes used in patients who are considered high risk, or when the disease has spread beyond the salivary glands.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most salivary duct tumors are noncancerous (benign) and slow growing. Removing the tumor by surgery usually cures the condition. In rare cases, the tumor is cancerous (malignant) and more extensive treatment is required.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
References Return to top
Scianna JM, Petruzzelli GJ. Contemporary management of tumors of the salivary glands. Curr Oncol Rep. 2007;9:134-138.Update Date: 3/24/2008 Updated by: Stephen Grund, MD, PhD, Chief of Hematology/Oncology and Director of the George Bray Cancer Center at New Britain General Hospital, New Britain, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.