Author | Ronald H. Spiro, MD


Management of Malignant Tumors of the Salivary Glands

May 01, 1998

Results of treatment for patients with salivary gland carcinoma have improved in recent years, most likely due to earlier diagnosis and the use of more effective locoregional therapy. Salivary gland tumors are treated surgically, often in conjunction with postoperative radiation therapy when the tumor is malignant. Good results rest strongly on the performance of an adequate, en bloc initial resection. Radical neck dissection is indicated in patients with obvious cervical metastasis, and limited neck dissection may be appropriate in patients with clinically negative nodes in whom occult nodal involvement is likely. Postoperative radiation therapy should be administered when the tumor is high stage or high grade, the adequacy of the resection is in question, or the tumor has ominous pathologic features. Neutron beam therapy shows promise in controlling locoregional disease but requires further study. No single chemotherapeutic agent or combination regimen has produced consistent results. At present, chemotherapy is clearly indicated only for palliation in symptomatic patients with recurrent and/or unresectable cancers. Patients with salivary gland carcinomas must be followed for long periods, as recurrence may occur a decade or more following therapy. Distant metastasis appears to occur in approximately 20% of patients.[ONCOLOGY 12 (5): 671-683, 1998]