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Can Salivary Gland Cancer Be Found Early?

Is there a screening test for salivary gland cancer?

Salivary gland cancer is not common, so doctors usually do not test for it unless someone has symptoms. There is also no routine screening test or program recommended by any major medical organization for people at average risk.

But, people who might be at higher risk of developing salivary gland cancer because they have had radiation to the head and neck area might be watched more closely.

Is salivary gland cancer ever found early?

In many cases, because of its location, salivary gland cancer can be found early. Often patients, their dentists, or their doctors notice a lump in one of the salivary glands (usually on the sides of the face or in the mouth). Checking the salivary glands for tumors is sometimes done as part of a general medical or dental check-up.

Being alert to possible signs and symptoms of salivary gland cancers and not ignoring them might help find these cancers early, when treatment is likely to be most successful.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Head and Neck Cancers. V.2.2021 – March 26, 2021. Accessed at on April 25, 2021.

Schneider AB, Lubin J, Ron E, et al. Salivary gland tumors after childhood radiation treatment for benign conditions of the head and neck: dose-response relationships. Radiat Res. 1998;149(6):625-630.

Last Revised: March 18, 2022

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