Salivary Gland Cancer

Published Date : Jan 2024
Category : Oncology
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"Unleashing the Hushed Threat: Navigating the Intricate Topography of Salivary Gland Cancer"

Salivary gland cancer, a relatively rare and understudied form of malignancy, has been quietly proliferating across the globe, leaving a significant impact on individuals and healthcare systems. Despite its low incidence compared to other types of cancer, salivary gland cancer presents unique challenges in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and overall patient management.

According to NIH, 0.5 to 1.2% of all cancers and 5% of tumours of the head and neck are salivary gland malignancies. When the ratio of males to females is one to 1.5, they primarily impact women. In around 21.7% of salivary gland neoplasms, malignant lesions are present. The submandibular, sublingual, and minor salivary glands are the sites of most malignant instances, after the parotid.15% to 32% of parotid masses are likely to be malignant, whereas submandibular masses have a likelihood of 41% to 50%, minor salivary gland masses have a probability of 70% to 90%, and sublingual masses have a probability of practically 100%.

On the other hand, the American Cancer Society reported that, although they account for 6% to 8% of all head and neck cancers, salivary gland tumours are rather uncommon. Every year in the US, there are between 2,000 to 2,500 instances. In Western countries, there are roughly three cases for every 100,000 individuals annually.

The development of abnormal cells in the gland or in the tubes (ducts) that drain the salivary glands is known as salivary gland cancer. Tumors originate in any of the several cell types that make up the salivary glands. As a result, salivary gland tumors come in a wide variety of forms, but they account for a very small percentage of head and neck cancers—just 6%.

There are various forms of salivary gland cancer, such as polymorphous adenocarcinoma, acinic cell carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma and others.

The glands inside and around the mouth are called salivary glands, and they are responsible for producing saliva. Saliva contains antibodies that fight bacteria and keep your mouth healthy as well as enzymes that aid in food digestion. There are 2 main types of Salivary Gland Major and Minor salivary gland.

Three pairs of major salivary gland include parotid gland which are at the side of mouth just under the lobe of ears, sublingual gland these are smaller than parotid gland and sit under the tongue, submandibular gland these are smallest of major salivary gland, at each side of jawbone. However, 800–1000 minor salivary glands are found in the buccal, labial, and lingual mucosa tissues, the soft palate, the lateral regions of the hard palate, and the floor of the mouth. These glands are situated inside the submucosa of the oral mucosa.

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system is the staging system most frequently used for salivary gland tumors. It is based on three important pieces of information:

  • The tumor's extent (T): What is the cancer's size? Has it spread to neighboring buildings?
  • The dissemination to adjacent lymph nodes (N): Have adjacent lymph nodes been affected by the cancer?
  • The dissemination (metastasis) to remote locations (M): Have distant organs like the lungs been affected by cancer?

The cancer's stage indicates the extent of the disease in the body. It aids in assessing the cancer's severity. The stage of malignancy is often used by doctors in survival statistics (prognosis).

Stage I denotes a very early phase of the disease. The malignancy has not spread to the lymph nodes, and the tumor measures no more than two centimeters.

Tumors larger than 2 centimeters but not exceeding 4 centimeters are classified as stage II. The lymph nodes are not affected by stage II cancer.

Stage III salivary gland cancer refers to cancer that has either grown to a size of more than 4 centimeters or has reached a neck lymph node.

The most advanced stage of cancer of the salivary gland is called stage IV. It is of variable size, but it has extended to remote portions of the body beyond the head and neck, as well as to soft tissue close by, such as the skin, jawbone, ear canal, facial nerve, the base of the skull, or carotid artery.

Most salivary gland malignancies have unknown causes. The most frequently suspected cause of salivary gland neoplasms is radiation exposure, such as from repeated dental radiographs and low-dose therapeutic radiation therapy in the past. Epstein-Barr virus and lymphoepithelial cancer are linked.

Furthermore, in approximately 2% of cases, pleomorphic adenoma might convert malignantly.


Swelling on the side of the face, right in front of the ear, or beneath the jawbone is the most typical symptom of salivary gland cancer.

Among the signs of salivary gland cancer are:

  • The most typical sign of salivary gland cancer is a swelling on the side of the face, directly in front of the ear, or beneath the jawbone.
  • a portion of your face feeling numb
  • where the swelling is, there is pain.
  • The earache
  • sagging on a single facial side (facial palsy)
  • Having trouble expanding your mouth fully
  • skin coloration on the gland's surface.

Other disorders are the cause of these symptoms. However, it is crucial to have a medical professional examine them. Early diagnosis improves the prognosis for salivary gland cancer patients.

Diagnostic Analysis

Physical Examination

The doctor examines the mouth, the regions on the sides of the face, the area around the ears, and the jaw during the physical examination. The physician feels the neck for swollen lymph nodes, which are lumps beneath the skin. The face is examined by the doctor for signs of weakness or numbness, which occurs when cancer spreads to the nerves.

Imaging Test

  • CT Scan: It uses X-rays to create an image of mass within the salivary gland. It gives information on tumor size and the spread of cancer cells to other body parts like lungs or bone tissue.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI produces images of inside body structures by using radio waves and magnets. An MRI scan reveals information about the size of a tumor, just like a CT scan. When determining whether cancer has progressed to soft tissue, such as muscles, blood vessels, or nerves, an MRI is very useful.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: To determine whether cancer has progressed to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, a PET scan employs trace amounts of radioactive chemicals. The patient has a PET scan and a CT scan done at the same time (a PET-CT).
  • Panoramic Radiograph: A rotating panoramic radiograph, also known as a Panorex, is a type of x-ray that looks at the upper and lower jawbones to detect cancer or assess teeth prior to cancer treatment. Salivary gland tumors are rarely assessed with this x-ray because it primarily assesses the architecture of the teeth and bones.
  • Endoscopy: Using a thin, flexible, illuminated tube called an endoscope, an endoscopy gives the doctor access to view inside the body. The patient is put to sleep while the tube is passed from the mouth into the esophagus, stomach, and small bowel. The term for the examination varies based on which part of the body is examined: laryngoscopy (larynx), pharyngoscopy (pharynx), or nasopharyngoscopy (nasopharynx). Administering drugs to induce relaxation, calmness, or sleep is known as sedation.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy involves taking a little sample of tissue to examine under a microscope. Only a biopsy definitively diagnoses cancer, even when other tests may indicate that it is present. The sample(s) is next examined by a pathologist. A pathologist is a medical professional who focuses on diagnosing illness by analyzing cells, tissues, and organs and interpreting laboratory results. To understand more about the sample, the pathologist will also examine the tissue and maybe run laboratory tests on it.
  • Ultrasound-Guided Needle Biopsy: In this procedure, the physician inserts a needle into the tumor using guidance provided by the ultrasound's images. Depending on where the tumor is located, the doctor may choose to either a core needle biopsy or a fine needle aspiration biopsy. A little sample of tumor tissue is taken for examination and testing during a fine needle aspiration biopsy using a syringe and a thin, hollow needle. Like a fine needle aspiration biopsy, a core needle biopsy removes more tissue with a larger needle.

                                                               Diagnostic Market Players

Imaging Test

Tissue Sampling

Annon Piezo Technology Co. LIMITED

civico medical solutions

Canon Medical Systems Corporation

Bard Access system

Hitachi, Ltd.

cook medical

Toshiba Corporation

Boston Scientific Corporation

Siemens Healthineers

Aspen Surgical.

GSK plc (U.K.),

Guardant Health

Philips Healthcare

Illumina, Inc.

Shimadzu Corporation

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd

Thermo Fisher Scientific


Bristol-Myers Squibb Company


Esaote S.p.A.


Neusoft Medical Systems Co., Ltd.


Mindray Medical International Limited


Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.


prexion corporation


Owandy Radiology


The Yoshida Dental Mfg. Co. Ltd



                                                                      Diagnostic Product

Imaging Test

Tissue Sampling

SIGNA™ Architect


Optima™ CT

BD EleVation™


EchoTip ProCore®



Discovery™ CT




SIGNA™ Pioneer

AVENIO ctDNA Expanded Kit V2

Revolution™ CT


Discovery™ PET/CT




VUE Point™ FX


Discovery™ MI


Evolve CBCT


I-Max 3D Pro





Treatment Analysis


  • Parotidectomy: A parotidectomy is a surgical surgery in which part or all the parotid gland is removed. There is one parotid gland in the cheek and in front of the ear on each side of the mouth. The body's largest salivary glands are located here. The facial nerve is frequently dissected during this procedure. A nerve transplant or other reconstructive surgeries are often required if cancer has progressed to the facial nerve, allowing the patient to regain the function of part of their facial muscles. Tissue transplantation and reconstructive surgery are frequently used to repair any lost tissue.
  • Endoscopic surgery: Endoscopic surgery is sometimes used to remove tumours, and it causes less tissue damage than traditional surgery. This is often employed when the paranasal region (the area around the nose) or the larynx is the site of a salivary gland tumour. But this is not common. Often, endoscopic surgery for suspected chronic sinusitis (inflammation) uncovers an unanticipated tumour.
  • Reconstructive surgery: To restore the affected area, the doctor advises reconstructive surgery following the tumour removal procedure. Reconstructive surgery is required to replace or restore any bone, skin, or nerves that were removed during the procedure.
  • Neck dissection: During a neck dissection, the surgeon removes the neck's lymph nodes and inspects all the important tissues. If there is a reasonable probability that the cancer will spread, or if the doctor suspects that it has already spread, this procedure is carried out. A neck dissection may result in lower lip weakness, numbness in the ear, and weakness when lifting the arm above the head. Nerve damage in the affected area is the cause of these adverse effects. Weakness of the arm and lower lip resolves in a few months, depending on the type of neck dissection. If during the dissection a nerve is severed, the weakness will remain.

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy is most frequently used in conjunction with surgery to treat a salivary gland tumor. Depending on the tumor's location, size, grade, and extent as well as whether some cancer cells were removed during surgery from the surrounding margin, radiation therapy may or may not be administered following surgery. If radiation treatment is suggested, it must begin no later than eight weeks following the procedure. Chemotherapy may potentially be used with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the primary treatment if a patient cannot have surgery or chooses not to undergo surgery.

Some of the side effects of radiation therapy to the head and neck include sore throats, mouth sores, bone discomfort, nausea, xerostomia (dry mouth) or thicker saliva due to damage to the salivary glands.

It also results in a disorder known as hypothyroidism, which slows down the thyroid gland (found in the neck), making the sufferer feel lethargic and exhausted.

Targeted Therapy

 To eradicate cancer or prevent it from spreading targeted therapy employs medications that specifically target genetic flaws in a cancer cell's DNA. Researchers are looking into how well-tailored treatments work for patients with metastasized adenoid cystic carcinomas.


Targeted therapy: To eradicate cancer or prevent it from spreading, targeted therapy employs medications that specifically target genetic flaws in a cancer cell's DNA. Researchers are looking into how well-tailored treatments work for patients with metastasized adenoid cystic carcinomas.

Treatment Market Players

Treatment product

Genentech, Inc.


F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd


Biocon Biologics Inc.


Genentech USA, Inc


Amgen Inc./ Allergan






Sm Health Communications Pvt Ltd




Pacylex Pharmaceuticals Inc.


Pfizer Inc.


Taj Pharmaceuticals Limited




Global demand for salivary gland cancer treatments has grown because of several causes, including rising disease prevalence, more government initiatives, improved treatment options, quickly improving healthcare infrastructure, and increasing patient awareness. There is a rise in the number of diagnostic tests due to increased R&D efforts and the growing need for tailored medications. The worldwide market for treatments for salivary gland cancer will benefit from these considerations.

To control costs and time at the same time, salivary gland cancer is often treated and diagnosed technically. Additionally, the market is growing at a faster rate because of the growing technological innovation.

Broadly employed in radiation therapy, radiosensitizers ensure focused treatments, boost immunity against cancer cells, and improve efficacy. Besides this, another aspect driving growth is the growing elderly population, who is very susceptible to cancer. Additionally, the market is growing because of the government policies that are being put in place to help educate the public about cancer treatments and to give them access to high-quality healthcare facilities.

In addition, the market is growing due to the recent invention of a supramolecular method that releases radiosensitizers selectively in hypoxic areas of tumors that are resistant to radiation therapy, improving therapeutic results and lowering the risk of long-term harm.

Clinical Trial Assessment

The DiseaseLandscape Insights consultancy firm provides valuable support in future market trends on the development of new pharmaceutical products. This support helps to streamline the planning and execution of clinical trials of novel medications and treatments, implement effective patient recruitment strategies, ensure regulatory compliance, and increase the likelihood of successful trial outcomes.

The below table gives information about some currently ongoing clinical trials, including their study titles and respective stages:

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

APG-115 in Salivary Gland Cancer Trial

Lenvatinib and Pembrolizumab in People with Advanced Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma and Other Salivary Gland Cancers

Chemo-radiotherapy Versus Radiotherapy in the Treatment of Salivary Glands and Nasal Tumors (IMRT or Protontherapy)

Safety of GQ1001 in Adult Patients with HER2-Positive Advanced Solid Tumors

Post-op T-DM1 in HER-2+ Salivary Gland Carcinomas


Testing the Combination of Two Anti-cancer Drugs, DS-8201a and AZD6738, for The Treatment of Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors Expressing the HER2 Protein or Gene, The DASH Trial

Testing the Anti-Cancer Drug Darolutamide in Patients with Testosterone-driven Salivary Gland Cancers

DETERMINE Trial Treatment Arm 04: Trastuzumab in Combination with Pertuzumab in Adult, Teenage/Young Adult and Paediatric Patients With Cancers With HER2 Amplification or Activating Mutations

APG-115 in Salivary Gland Cancer Trial Testing the Addition of an Anti-cancer Drug, BAY 1895344, With Radiation Therapy to the Usual Pembrolizumab Treatment for Recurrent Head and Neck Cancer

Testing the Use of Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine Compared to the Usual Treatment (Chemotherapy with Docetaxel Plus Trastuzumab) for Recurrent, Metastatic, or Unresectable HER2-Positive Salivary Gland Cancer


Binary Oncolytic Adenovirus in Combination with HER2-Specific Autologous CAR VST, Advanced HER2 Positive Solid Tumors

9-ING-41 Plus Carboplatin in Salivary Gland Carcinoma



Safety, PK and Efficacy of ONC-392 in Monotherapy and in Combination of Anti-PD-1 in Advanced Solid Tumors and NSCLC

Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) and Pembrolizumab for Advanced Stage Androgen Receptor-positive Salivary Gland Carcinoma


A Study to Evaluate TROP2 ADC LCB84 Single Agent and in Combination with an Anti-PD-1 Ab in Advanced Solid Tumors

Amivantamab in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma




DiseaseLandscape Insights (DLI) helps companies build and run effective strategies to prevent and control ACC epidemics. Furthermore, as awareness and anticipated epidemics grow, there is a growing demand for diagnostic tools, clinical evaluations, and novel therapeutics.

Major players involved in the production of medicinal items might benefit from the information and experience provided by DiseaseLandscape Insights. The assistance provided by DLI facilitates patient recruitment strategies, regulatory compliance, and the planning and execution of clinical trials for novel medications and pharmaceuticals.

This ultimately motivates the leaders to conduct qualitative research, investigate manufacturing companies, and find out about raw material sources. All industry participants gain a stronger foothold in salivary gland cancer and keep one step ahead with the help of DiseaseLandscape Insights.

Vishal SawantBusiness Development

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