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January 5, 2016 / drjamesfreije

Understanding Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary Gland Cancer  pic

Salivary Gland Cancer
Image: mayoclinic.org

State College, Pennsylvania, otolaryngologist Dr. James Freije has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating conditions of the head and neck. One such condition is salivary gland cancer, which Dr. James Freije typically addresses with surgery.

There are numerous small salivary glands inside the mouth and throat, but the major salivary glands come in three pairs. The submandibular glands are below the jawbone, the sublingual glands are on the floor of the mouth, and the parotid glands are just below the ears. Of the three sets, the parotid glands are the largest and the most likely to develop tumors. Those who have undergone radiation treatments to the head and neck or been exposed to workplace substances such as asbestos are at a high risk for this type of cancer.

After an unusual lump, pain, or change in normal oral functioning prompts an investigation, the physician will order imaging tests such as an MRI and CT scan. A biopsy of the suspicious tissue can help determine if the tumor is cancerous. Treatments for salivary gland cancer depend upon several factors, including the size and stage of the cancer. Small, localized tumors can often be removed surgically without complications. Larger tumors may require removing the entire salivary gland along with any affected surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. In such cases, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to restore the patient’s appearance and ability to function normally.

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