Salivary glands produce saliva, which moisturize the food we eat and aids in the digestion process. Saliva contains enzymes that break down food before it reaches the stomach, and helps keep the mouth clean. The antibodies in saliva also help defend the body from germs. Unfortunately, there are several disorders that may prevent the salivary glands from functioning properly, one of them being salivary gland tumors.
Both non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous tumors may develop in the salivary glands, and the majority of salivary gland tumors begin in the parotid glands. Although only 20% of tumors found in the parotid glands are cancerous, it is important that a specialist performs a biopsy to determine whether a growth is cancerous or not. If a growth is cancerous, surgical removal of the tumor is needed.
When a salivary gland tumor is discovered, a fine needle biopsy is often indicated to determine whether it is benign or cancerous. To ascertain the extent of the tumor, an MRI scan of the face and neck may be needed.
In advanced cases, pain and facial paralysis may be indicators of a parotid tumor. The most common symptom of salivary gland cancer, however, is a painless mass.
Exposure to radiation is the most well-known cause of salivary gland cancer. This includes environmental exposure and radiation therapy for cancer of the head or neck.
If you think you have a parotid tumor or would like an examination, schedule a consultation with Beverly Hills parotid specialist Dr. Larian today by calling 310.461.0300.