A prognosis is a prediction of the outcome of one’s disease. How likely is survival? Will the cancer come back? These are the big questions on most people’s minds after receiving a diagnosis of oral salivary gland cancer. In general, there are several characteristics of the tumour that can inform a patient about their chances of being successfully cured.
Factors That Affect Prognosis
This is the most important factor that affects a patient’s chance of being cured.
The location and extent of the tumour can affect the surgeon’s ability to resect the tumour with adequate margins of healthy tissue around it.
Type and Grade
Both the type and grade of the tumour determine the amount of treatment necessary and the ultimate prognosis.
Spread to Lymph Nodes
This helps determine stage, but even without other factors, spread to lymph nodes in the neck decreases the chance of cure, especially if there is growth of cancer outside of the lymph node.
The ability to completely remove the tumour with a margin of normal tissue around it can be a very important factor in a patient’s prognosis.
Spread into Local Structures
Spread into large nerves, skin and bone has been shown to indicate a worse prognosis.
While each of these factors contributes to one’s outcome, patients should have a discussion with their doctor to determine their overall prognosis. Giving a percentage of survival is challenging because cancer research often looks at multiple types of cancer and may include a large range of patients who underwent a variety of treatments.