Treatment of Recurrent Salivary Gland Cancer

Cancer is called recurrent if it comes back after treatment. Recurrence can be local (in or near the same place it started) or distant (spread to organs such as the lungs or liver).

If cancer returns after treatment, the choices available depend on the location and the extent of the cancer and what treatment was used the first time around. It’s important to understand the goal of further treatment – whether it’s to try to cure the cancer or to help relieve symptoms – as well as the likelihood of benefits and risks.

If the cancer is thought to be resectable (able to be removed completely), surgery is usually the treatment of choice when possible. This is often followed by radiation therapy if it wasn’t given before.

If the cancer returns in the area where it started but is not resectable, radiation therapy may be an option. Chemotherapy (chemo) may be used along with the radiation or by itself (especially if radiation therapy was already used as part of the initial treatment).

Cancers that come back in distant parts of the body are usually treated with chemo. In selected cases, other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy may be used to help relieve symptoms from the spread of the cancer. Because these cancers can be hard to treat, clinical trials of newer treatment approaches may be a good option.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: January 13, 2014 Last Revised: March 3, 2015

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