Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary gland cancers begin in the salivary glands of your mouth, cheek, neck or throat. Salivary glands release saliva into your mouth and throat to help digest food and protect against infection.

It is important to note that a growth within a salivary gland or increase in the size of a salivary gland is not necessarily cancer. Changes in a salivary gland can be caused by infections (bacteria and viruses), stones that block up the ducts and make the glands swell, inflammatory problems, systemic diseases or benign (non-cancerous) tumours.

In other words, just because you have an obvious lump or bump (even a tumour) in a salivary gland does not mean it is cancer. Generally, larger salivary glands have a lesser chance that a lump within it is cancer. In fact, most tumours of the salivary gland are benign and can include any of the following:

  • Pleomorphic adenoma
  • Myoepithelioma
  • Basal cell adenoma
  • Warthin tumour
  • Oncocytoma
  • Canalicular adenoma
  • Sebaceous adenoma
  • Lymphadenoma
  • Sebaceous
  • Non-sebaceous
  • Ductal papillomas
  • Inverted ductal papilloma
  • Intraductal papilloma
  • Sialadenoma papilliferum
  • Cystadenoma
  • Hemangioma