Major and minor salivary gland tumors

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2010 May;74(2):134-48. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Malignant salivary gland tumors are rare. The most common tumor site is the parotid. Aetiologic factors are not clear. Nutrition may be a risk factor, as well as irradiation or a long-standing histologically benign tumor that occurs at youth. Painless swelling of a salivary gland should always be considered as suspicious, especially if no sign of inflammation is present. Signs and symptoms related to major salivary gland tumors differ from those concerning minor salivary gland tumors, as they depend on the different location of the salivary gland. Surgical excision represents the standard option in the treatment of resectable tumors of both major and minor salivary glands. Neutron, heavy ions or proton radiotherapy may be a treatment option for inoperable locoregional disease. Surgery, irradiation or re-irradiation are treatment options for local relapse, whereas radical neck dissection is indicated for regional relapses. Metastatic disease may be either treated with radiotherapy or palliative chemotherapy, depending on the site of metastases. For highly selected patients the employment of anti-androgen therapy is indicated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma* / complications
  • Carcinoma* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma* / pathology
  • Carcinoma* / therapy
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms* / complications
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Salivary Glands, Minor / pathology
  • Salivary Glands, Minor / surgery