Signs and Symptoms of Salivary Gland Cancer

The major salivary glands are on each side of the face and below the tongue. Several important nerves and other structures run through or near salivary glands and can be affected by salivary tumors.

Possible signs and symptoms of salivary gland cancer include:

  • A lump or swelling in your mouth, cheek, jaw, or neck
  • Pain in your mouth, cheek, jaw, ear, or neck that does not go away
  • A recent difference between the size and/or shape of the left and right sides of your face or neck
  • Numbness in part of your face
  • Weakness of the muscles on one side of your face
  • Trouble opening your mouth widely
  • Trouble swallowing

Many of these signs and symptoms can also be caused by benign (non-cancer) salivary gland tumors or by other conditions. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

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Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, Romesser PB. Chapter 65 - Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Chapter 45- Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Salivary Gland Cancer: Treatment. 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/adult/salivary-gland-treatment-pdq on April 25, 2021.

References

Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, Romesser PB. Chapter 65 - Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Chapter 45- Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Salivary Gland Cancer: Treatment. 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/adult/salivary-gland-treatment-pdq on April 25, 2021.

Last Revised: March 18, 2022

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