Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment

Memorial Sloan Kettering salivary gland cancer doctor Alan Ho sees a patient.

There are several ways to treat salivary gland cancer, depending on the location, the stage, and the type of cancer, including:

  • surgery to remove the cancer
  • radiation therapy, using high-energy rays (such as x-rays) to destroy the cancer cells
  • drug therapies that kill cancer cells

Most treatment plans involve surgery. Radiation therapy is also a very common and effective part of the care plan. Chemotherapy is more often recommended for advanced salivary gland cancers, and it may be offered through a clinical trial.

If you have salivary gland cancer, your doctors will discuss your treatment options with you. To make an informed choice, ask about the pros and cons of each option. Also ask about potential changes in your appearance and facial expressions, and what resources are available to you after treatment, such as rehabilitation and other support services.

Our goal at Memorial Sloan Kettering is to give compassionate, personalized care to every person who comes to us for salivary gland cancer treatment. Your team of salivary gland cancer experts will design a treatment plan especially for you. Their specialties include surgery, radiation therapy, drug therapy, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and quality-of-life issues. Having everyone on your care team work together helps us ensure that we choose the best combination of therapies to treat your cancer and give you the best outcome possible.

Rehabilitation for Salivary Gland Tumors

Many people experience problems with their speech or swallowing as a result of salivary gland tumors and their treatment. MSK’s speech pathologists are experts in helping patients recover. They will be there for you before, during, and after your treatment to help address any problems, whether your treatment involves surgery or radiation therapy. The goal is to achieve optimal continuity of care.

Before you start treatment, your speech pathologist performs a baseline assessment. This measures your swallowing, speech, voice, and mouth movements. You will learn how these abilities may change as a result of treatment. Your speech pathologist will work with your care team to make a plan for your care during and after treatment. Your speech pathologist will continue to see you regularly if needed to help you improve and maintain your swallowing, speech, voice, and mouth movements.

Our physical and occupational therapists are also available to work with you to improve your mobility after surgery or other medical treatments.

Why Choose Memorial Sloan Kettering for Salivary Gland Tumor Treatment

Memorial Sloan Kettering speech pathologist Louise Cunningham

Memorial Sloan Kettering is a leading center for the treatment of salivary gland cancer and benign salivary gland tumors. Our head and neck surgeons are nationally and internationally recognized for their expertise. U.S. News consistently ranks MSK as a top hospital in the nation for head and neck care.

  • We offer our patients unparalleled skill in salivary gland surgery. Our surgeons have extensive experience in removing tumors of the parotid glands, submandibular glands, and other salivary glands. This includes highly complex or large tumors.
  • Our surgical care teams prioritize preserving the facial nerve during surgery. They use meticulous surgical techniques and the most-advanced facial nerve monitoring technology. It helps them locate, work around, and protect the facial nerve whenever possible.
  • We deliver radiation therapy using the most-modern and most-precise methods available. We tailor them just for salivary gland tumors.
  • Our patients have access to exciting new drug therapies through our program of clinical trials.
  • Our imaging experts have vast experience in determining the type and extent of salivary gland cancer you may have.
  • When necessary, our plastic surgeons offer unique expertise. They can help restore facial function and improve your appearance following salivary gland cancer surgery.
  • Our rehabilitation experts and speech pathologists design individualized treatment plans. They can help you manage problems with your speech, voice, swallowing, and other side effects of salivary gland tumors and their treatment.
  • Our team monitors you with follow-up care to guide your recovery.
  • Our patients may receive long-term follow-up care from a nurse practitioner who specializes in the late medical needs of people who been treated for salivary gland cancer.

We’re constantly improving the treatment options available to people with salivary gland cancer. In fact, our experts were involved in many of the modern approaches used to treat head and neck cancer. We have also developed innovative methods of fighting cancer with radiation and radiation combined with chemotherapy. This also means that our patients have access to clinical trials of new treatment options that are not available at most other hospitals.