Chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer
Chemotherapy (chemo) refers to the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Usually the drugs are given into a vein or by mouth. Once the drugs enter the bloodstream, they spread throughout the body.
Chemo is not often used to treat salivary gland cancers. Sometimes it is used for people whose cancer has spread to distant organs or whose cancer could not be controlled by surgery and radiation therapy. While the drugs may shrink the tumor for these patients, they do not cure this type of cancer.
Chemo can cause side effects, which usually go away after treatment. These include tiredness, nausea, mouth sores, and hair loss. It can also cause you to bleed or bruise easily, and be at a higher risk of infection. Side effects depend on the type of drugs given, the amount taken, and how long treatment lasts. Anyone who has problems with side effects should talk with their doctor or nurse, as there are often ways to help. For more details about chemo, see our document called Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.
Last Medical Review: 09/28/2012
Last Revised: 09/28/2012