Salivary Gland Cancer

An estimated 3-5% of all head and neck cancers are salivary gland malignancies. Approximately 70% of these lesions begin in the Parotid glands located on each side of the head in front of the ears. Most commonly, this type of cancer is associated with environmental factors, such as radiation therapy; the usual subgroup of these is Mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC).

Hereditary predisposition is also well established as a cause of salivary gland cancer; the subgroups associated with it are:

  • Submandibular gland carcinoma
  • MALT lymphoma
  • Acinic cell carcinoma (ACC)[1]

The incidence of salivary gland cancers is most often found in an older population, with 80% in people 70 or older. and is treated mainly by surgical resection.[2] Tumours that develop in the parotid gland tend to be benign, and those that develop in the submandibular glands tend to be malignant. (Canadian Cancer Society)

Risk Factors and Symptoms

Diagnosis and Staging

Prognosis and Treatment


[1] Aro, Katri, et al. “Familial predisposition for salivary gland cancer in Finland.” Clinical Medicine Insights: Ear, Nose and Throat, 2014, p. 7+

[2] Eskander, Antoine, et al. “Overview of major salivary gland cancer surgery in Ontario (2003-2010).” Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, vol. 43, no. 1, 2014.