What are the risk factors for salivary gland cancer?
While we don't know what causes salivary gland cancer, but there are some risk factors that seem to be linked to the disease. A risk factor is something that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person’s age or race, can’t be changed.
These risk factors make a person more likely to get salivary gland cancer:
Radiation: Radiation treatment to the head and neck area or work exposure to certain radioactive substances may increase the risk of salivary gland cancer.
Family history: Very rarely, members of some families seem to have a higher than usual risk of getting salivary gland cancers.
The links between these risk factors and salivary gland cancer are less clear:
Certain types of work: Some studies suggest that working with certain products, such as nickel alloy dust or silica dust, may increase the risk of this cancer, but these links are not certain.
Diet: Some studies have found that a diet high in animal fat and low in vegetables could increase risk. More research is needed to confirm this.
Cell phones: One study suggested an increased risk of parotid gland tumors in heavy cell phone users. In this study, most of the tumors seen were benign (not cancer). Other studies looking at this issue have not found such a link. Research is still being done in this area. If there is any excess risk, it could be decreased by using corded or cordless earpieces that move the phone away from the user’s head and decrease the amount of radiation that reaches the body.
Last Medical Review: 09/28/2012
Last Revised: 09/28/2012