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Salivary Gland Tumors
Both benign (non-cancerous) and cancerous salivary gland tumors may develop anywhere in the salivary glands, but the majority of them begin in the parotid glands. In fact, as many as 80% of salivary gland tumors begin in the parotid glands. 10% occur in the submandibular glands, and 10% form in the sublingual and minor glands.
While most salivary gland tumors occur in the parotid glands, only 20% of them are cancerous. Tumors in the submandibular and sublingual glands are less common, but more often cancerous. As many as 50% of the submandibular tumors are cancerous, while 65% of sublingual and minor gland tumors are cancerous. With these numbers in mind, we want to stress that it is important that you come see us if you are experiencing common symptoms so we can perform a biopsy. This will allow us to determine whether a growth is cancerous or not, and in turn come up with a treatment plan.
In terms of growth, there are four stages of salivary gland tumors:
Stage 1 – the tumor is in the salivary gland and is 2 centimeters or smaller, which is comparable to a pea or a peanut.
Stage 2 – the tumor is in the salivary gland only and is larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 4 centimeters. Size wise, it is now the size of a peanut or a walnut.
Stage 3 – the tumor has spread to a single lymph node and/or to the soft tissue around the gland. The tumor is now larger than 4 centimeters, meaning it is about as big as a lime.
Stage 4 – The tumor may be any size, and may have spread to the soft tissue around the gland, to lymph nodes, and/or other areas of the body.
Watch Dr. Larian Perform Parotid Tumor Removal Surgery
In advanced cases, pain and facial paralysis may be indicators of salivary gland tumors and possible salivary gland cancer. The most common symptom of salivary gland tumor, however, is a painless mass. Exposure to radiation is the most well-known cause of salivary gland cancer. This includes environmental exposure and radiation therapy for cancer of the head or neck. Moreover, Individuals who are consistently exposed to industrial solvents, pesticides, or sawdust may have an increased risk of developing a type of salivary gland malignancy that affects the nose and sinuses.
When a salivary gland tumor is discovered, a fine needle biopsy is often indicated to determine whether it is benign or cancerous. To ascertain the extent of the tumor, an MRI scan of the face and neck may be indicated as well.
Although benign tumors will not spread to other parts of the body, they may affect surrounding nerves, making surgery more difficult as they grow around the nerve. It is also possible for benign tumors to become cancerous. Thus, removal of the tumor and close monitoring is absolutely necessary in order to prevent a more serious situation. Salivary gland cancer, on the other hand, almost always involve surgical removal. This type of surgery is called a parotidectomy, or submandibular gland excision.
When surgical removal of a salivary gland becomes necessary, it is of the upmost importance than you consult an experienced and qualified Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, such as Dr. Larian. He has extensive experience with parotidectomies and submandibular gland resection surgeries, and would be happy to help you.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Beverly Hills salivary gland tumor expert Dr. Larian, give us a call at 310.461.0300 today!
Next, learn about types of tumors.