Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Cancer of the Salivary Glands Expertise

The head and neck cancer specialists at the Stanford Cancer Center have experience treating salivary gland cancer, providing multidisciplinary for these rare tumors.

A variety of tumors can grow in the salivary glands of the head and neck. These tumors are more commonly benign, however they need to be approached with the same caution as cancers arising from the glands. At Stanford, we make every attempt to diagnose what type of mass is involving the gland, utilizing advanced imaging and guided needle biopsy techniques. This allows us to appropriately plan for surgery and additional treatment as necessary.

Surgery is usually necessary. When the parotid gland is the site of the tumor, electrophysiologic monitoring of the facial nerve is usually used to help prevent injury to this nerve.

When, rarely, the facial nerve must be removed because it is involved with cancer, the nerve is genereally reconstructed with a nerve graft. Other supplementary methods such as a gold weight implant of the upper eyelid and tightening the lower eyelid may be used as part of rehabilitation.

Postoperative radiation therapy, using IMRT (where computers assist in planning the radiation so as to minimize injury to other areas) is a mainstay of treatment high grade salivary gland cancer.

We are developing in conjunction with the Biodesign Department is developing a device to mitigate the dry mouth associated with irradiation.

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