What Leads To Parotid Tumors & Can It Be Cured?

The cause of the parotid tumor isn’t clear however clinical studies demonstrate that smoking, dehydration, and exposure to radiation can induce the development of malignant cells in the salivary gland.1, 2

When the condition is diagnosed early, there are increased chances of cure and recovery.3

The treatment option includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy that focusses on preserving the function of the nearby nerves, organs, and tissues in addition to curing cancer.4

What Leads To Parotid Tumors?

The cause of the parotid tumor isn’t clear however clinical studies demonstrate that smoking, dehydration, and exposure to radiation can induce the development of malignant cells in the salivary gland. A vast majority of salivary gland tumors are caused by changes in the DNA inside the cells.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material that contains our unique genetic code providing instructions on how our cells should function. We inherit the characteristics of our parents because of the DNA cells. Similarly, it can enhance the risk of a certain disease. When the disease runs in the families, higher the risk of developing the disorder.

Some genes grow multiply and divide and are called oncogenes whereas some genes slow the progression of cell division and repair and instruct cells when to divide. They are called tumor suppressor genes.

Cancers are caused by DNAs that turn on oncogenes and turn off tumor suppressor genes. When there are increased changes to different genes, the chances of developing cancer are high. Medical studies demonstrate that salivary gland tumors generally not run in families instead they are inherited through their ancestors.1, 2

In addition to this, certain external factors such as exposure to radiation or carcinogens, and old age can also contribute to the parotid tumor.

Can Parotid Tumors Be Cured?

There are several best-known treatments for salivary gland cancer. Patients with salivary gland cancer can determine their mode of treatment based on the advice of specialist doctors who have expertise in treating head and neck cancer. When the condition is diagnosed early, there are increased chances of cure and recovery. 3.

The treatment option includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy that focusses on preserving the function of the nearby nerves, organs, and tissues in addition to curing cancer.

Surgery – This is the most common treatment and usually the first treatment for the removal of the parotid tumor. During the surgery, the doctor removes cancer and the surrounding healthy tissue around this region. Radiation therapy is used followed surgery to kill the cancer cells that are left behind after surgery

Radiation Therapy- There is two main types of radiation therapy used for salivary gland cancer. This involves

  1. External beam radiation is used when cancer has grown into the soft tissue and spread to the lymph nodes.
  2. Internal Radiation therapy for implanting tiny pellets or rods containing radioactive materials.

Chemotherapy – This mode of treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. 4.

The primary function of the salivary glands is to produce saliva to keep your mouth moist and to prevent the teeth from decay. Saliva prevents dehydration and aids in the digestion of the food. Three pairs of major salivary glands include the parotid glands, the submandibular glands, and the sublingual glands.

Most cases of salivary gland tumors occur in the parotid glands producing a painless salivary mass. The signs are assessed through a fine needle biopsy. For malignant tumors, surgery followed by radiation or chemotherapy can be helpful.

References:

  1. “Salivary Gland Tumors.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/salivary-gland-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20354151.
  2. Schiff, Bradley A., et al. “Salivary Gland Tumors – Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders.” Merck Manuals Professional Edition, Merck Manuals, www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/tumors-of-the-head-and-neck/salivary-gland-tumors.
  3. “Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment (Adult) (PDQ®)–Patient Version.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/adult/salivary-gland-treatment-pdq.
  4. Schiff, Bradley A., et al. “Salivary Gland Tumors – Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders.” Merck Manuals Professional Edition, Merck Manuals, www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/tumors-of-the-head-and-neck/salivary-gland-tumors.

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