Diagnosing salivary gland cancer
Tests and procedures used to diagnose salivary gland cancer include:
- A physical exam. Your doctor will feel your jaw, neck and throat for lumps or swelling.
- Imaging tests. Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT), may help your doctor determine the size and location of your salivary gland cancer.
- Collecting a sample of tissue for testing. Your doctor may recommend collecting a sample of tissue (biopsy) for laboratory testing. During an aspiration biopsy, the doctor inserts a needle into the suspicious area and draws out fluid or cells. Salivary gland tumors are also analyzed in the laboratory after surgery to confirm the diagnosis.
Determining the extent of salivary gland cancer
After your cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will determine the extent (stage) of your cancer. Your cancer's stage determines your treatment options and gives your doctor an idea of your prognosis.
Cancer stages are identified by Roman numerals, with stage I indicating a small, localized tumor and stage IV indicating an advanced cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck or to distant parts of the body.
April 22, 2015
- Salivary gland cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/salivarygland/healthprofessional. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Flint PW, et al. Malignant neoplasms of the salivary glands. In: Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Head and neck cancers. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Dry mouth or xerostomia. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/side-effects/dry-mouth-or-xerostomia. Accessed April 3, 2015.
- Cancer-related fatigue. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 17, 2014.
- Laurie SA. Salivary gland tumors: Epidemiology, diagnosis, evaluation and staging. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 6, 2015.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 6, 2015.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.