Skip to main content

Treating Salivary Gland Cancer

If you've been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. It's important to weigh the benefits of each treatment option against the possible risks and side effects.

Common treatment approaches

Sometimes more than one type of treatment is used. Which treatment option(s) might be best for you depends on many factors, including the type, grade, and stage of the cancer; your overall health; the chances of curing the disease; the impact of the treatment on functions like speech, chewing, and swallowing; and your own personal preferences.

Who treats salivary gland cancer?

Depending on your situation, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team:

  • An otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat, or ENT doctor): a surgeon who treats certain diseases of the head and neck
  • radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy
  • medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy·        
  • A plastic surgeon: a doctor who specializes in reconstructing or repairing parts of the body 
  • An oral and maxillofacial surgeon: a dental surgeon who treats diseases of the mouth, teeth, and jaws
  • A neurologist: a doctor who specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, speech therapists, physical therapists, swallowing specialists, occupational therapists, social workers, and other health professionals.

Making treatment decisions

It’s important to discuss all your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your family and your treatment team to make the choice that best fits your needs. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask to have it explained. 

If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan you choose.