What is Salivary Gland Tumor?
Salivary Gland Tumor develops where there is abnormal growth of cells in the salivary glands and the ducts of the salivary glands through which the glands drain the saliva to the mouth. The main function of the Salivary glands are to produce saliva, which cleans the mouth of any pathogens that might have infiltrated into the mouth by way of food and also helps in chewing food and swallowing it.
The salivary glands are made up of three parts of which the parotid gland is the largest one and are located in the cheeks at each end and in front of the ears. The other two parts of the salivary glands are the submandibular glands which are located on the floor of the mouth under the sides of the jaws on both sides. There are also other numerous salivary glands which line the floor of the mouth.
Salivary Gland Tumor is quite a rare phenomenon, but it usually occurs in the largest salivary gland which is the parotid gland. Salivary duct stones and infections of the salivary glands are some of the causes for development of Salivary Gland Tumor. These tumors may be benign or in some cases malignant. In either case, the surgical removal of the tumor is the front line treatment for Salivary Gland Tumor.
What Causes Salivary Gland Tumor?
What exactly is the root cause of a Salivary Gland Tumor is not yet known, but they are believed to occur due to mutations of certain genes which control cell growth in the salivary gland due to which there is uncontrollable growth of cells in the gland resulting in Salivary Gland Tumor. A benign Salivary Gland Tumor may enlarge in size, but will not invade the other surrounding structures but a malignant Salivary Gland Tumor tends to invade the nearby structures thus spreading the cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Salivary Gland Tumor?
Both benign and malignant Salivary Gland Tumor begins as a painless lump of mass in the region of the mouth and cheeks. With time, the malignant tumors may invade the nearby structures and involve the nerves resulting in localized pain along with numbness, paresthesias, and loss of motor function. The ability to chew the food and swallowing difficulties may also occur as a result of Salivary Gland Tumor.
How to Diagnose Salivary Gland Tumor?
In order to diagnose Salivary Gland Tumor, the physician will first take a close look at the location of the tumor. If it is within the region of the mouth then suspicion for a Salivary Gland Tumor is raised, but a series of test will be performed to confirm whether the tumor is benign or malignant. To do this, a fine-needle aspiration biopsy will be done along with radiographic studies in the form of an MRI or CT scan to confirm the location of the tumor and to see the extent to which the tumor has spread in cases of malignant Salivary Gland Tumors. Once the location of the tumor is identified along with whether the tumor is malignant or benign a treatment plan is formulated that best suits the patient for treating Salivary Gland Tumor.
How is Salivary Gland Tumor Treated?
For benign Salivary Gland Tumors, removal of the mass or tumor is good enough to treat Salivary Gland Tumor. In cases where the tumor is malignant then further and more aggressive treatments will be required along with removal of the tumor with radiation therapy. There is no chemotherapy agent, which is found to be quite effective for Salivary Gland Tumors. In case if the tumor is not able to be excised in its full for any reason then the recurrence rate is quite high for Salivary Gland Tumor. In all surgeries for excision of Salivary Gland Tumor, attention is paid so as not to injure the facial nerve which is removed only in cases where the tumor has spread to such an extent that the facial nerve gets involved.
What is the Prognosis of Salivary Gland Tumor?
The prognosis for benign Salivary Gland Tumor is quite good after complete excision of the tumor, although recurrence rate is quite high for incomplete excision of the tumor. In cases of malignant Salivary Gland Tumor, the prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer. The five year survival rate for people with stage I of Salivary Gland Tumor is around 95%, which comes down to around 40% for people with type IV Salivary Gland Tumor.