Cancer of salivary gland is a malignant tumor of tissues that produce saliva. Cancer begins when the cells in the body become abnormal and start to multiply without control or order. These cells form a growth of tissue called a tumor which can be benign or malignant. Usually, a benign tumor isn’t cancerous and can be removed without growing back while a malignant tumor is cancerous which can invade and damage the healthy tissues and organs in the body.
The most cancerous tumors in the body begin in the largest of the salivary gland which is a parotid gland that is found on either side of the face, in front of the ears as well as submandibular glands which are found under the jawbone. This cancer can also begin in the minor salivary glands. About 80 percent in the parotid gland and about half of the tumors in the submandibular gland are noncancerous while almost always malignant in the sublingual gland tumors. If you experience any symptoms listed below, book an appointment to see a doctor.
Patient with salivary gland cancer may experience facial numbness, lump on face, neck or mouth, facial muscles movement instability, different between the size and shape of the left and right sides of the face or neck and pain or swelling in the chin, face, around the jawbone or neck.
The doctor uses many tests for diagnosing cancer and determining if it has spread. There are certain tests that determine which treatment are the most effective. Fine needle aspiration cytology (biopsy) is the preferred method to examine salivary gland tumor diagnosis.
Factors involve while considering a diagnostic test include age, medical condition, the severity of symptoms, type of cancer and the results of the previous tests. A medical history and physical exam will be done carefully to identify the potential risk factors. No specific blood tests or urine tests can detect the salivary gland tumor.
The following tests are used to diagnose salivary gland cancer- endoscopy, fine needle aspiration, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan and ultrasound.