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Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 03/12/2014

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Stage I Major Salivary Gland Cancer

Low-grade Tumors
High-grade Tumors
Current Clinical Trials

Low-grade stage I tumors of the salivary gland are curable with surgery alone.[1-3] Radiation therapy may be used for tumors for which resection involves a significant cosmetic or functional deficit or as an adjuvant to surgery when positive margins are present.[4] Neutron-beam therapy is effective in the treatment of poor-prognosis patients with malignant salivary gland tumors.[5-7]

High-grade stage I salivary gland tumors that are confined to the gland in which they arise may be cured by surgery alone, though adjuvant radiation therapy may be used, especially with the presence of positive margins.

Low-grade Tumors

Standard treatment options:

  1. Surgery alone.
  2. Postoperative radiation therapy should be considered when the resection margins are positive.
High-grade Tumors

Standard treatment options:

  1. Localized high-grade salivary gland tumors that are confined to the gland in which they arise may be cured by radical surgery alone.
  2. Postoperative radiation therapy may improve local control and increase survival rates for patients with high-grade tumors, positive surgical margins, or perineural invasion.[8][Level of evidence: 3iiiDii][9-11]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Clinical trials exploring newer methods of local control are appropriate. The role of chemotherapy remains under evaluation, though data suggest that some salivary gland tumors may be responsive to chemotherapy.[12,13]
Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I salivary gland cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Byers RM, Jesse RH, Guillamondegui OM, et al.: Malignant tumors of the submaxillary gland. Am J Surg 126 (4): 458-63, 1973.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG: Treatment of head and neck cancer. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 729-80. 

  3. Woods JE, Chong GC, Beahrs OH: Experience with 1,360 primary parotid tumors. Am J Surg 130 (4): 460-2, 1975.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Guillamondegui OM, Byers RM, Luna MA, et al.: Aggressive surgery in treatment for parotid cancer: the role of adjunctive postoperative radiotherapy. Am J Roentgenol Radium Ther Nucl Med 123 (1): 49-54, 1975.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Krüll A, Schwarz R, Engenhart R, et al.: European results in neutron therapy of malignant salivary gland tumors. Bull Cancer Radiother 83 (Suppl): 125-9s, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Douglas JG, Lee S, Laramore GE, et al.: Neutron radiotherapy for the treatment of locally advanced major salivary gland tumors. Head Neck 21 (3): 255-63, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Douglas JG, Laramore GE, Austin-Seymour M, et al.: Treatment of locally advanced adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck with neutron radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 46 (3): 551-7, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Hosokawa Y, Shirato H, Kagei K, et al.: Role of radiotherapy for mucoepidermoid carcinoma of salivary gland. Oral Oncol 35 (1): 105-11, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Garden AS, el-Naggar AK, Morrison WH, et al.: Postoperative radiotherapy for malignant tumors of the parotid gland. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 37 (1): 79-85, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Mendenhall WM, Morris CG, Amdur RJ, et al.: Radiotherapy alone or combined with surgery for salivary gland carcinoma. Cancer 103 (12): 2544-50, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Chen AM, Granchi PJ, Garcia J, et al.: Local-regional recurrence after surgery without postoperative irradiation for carcinomas of the major salivary glands: implications for adjuvant therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 67 (4): 982-7, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Kaplan MJ, Johns ME, Cantrell RW: Chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 95 (2): 165-70, 1986.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. Eisenberger MA: Supporting evidence for an active treatment program for advanced salivary gland carcinomas. Cancer Treat Rep 69 (3): 319-21, 1985.  [PUBMED Abstract]