Biology and management of salivary gland cancers

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2012 Jul;22(3):245-53. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2012.03.009.


The salivary gland cancers are uncommon neoplasms of the head and neck, which exhibit considerable pathologic, biological, and clinical diversity. Surgical resection, often with postoperative radiation, is the standard therapeutic approach, and the results after treatment vary widely depending on the tumor histology. Chemotherapy has been of only limited palliative benefit in patients with advanced disease, and there has been little exploration of its use in definitive management. Recent investigation has focused on identification of the characteristic molecular signatures and genomic alterations of the specific histologic subtypes. These efforts have suggested the potential for molecularly targeted therapies, and clinical trials exploring this approach are currently underway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / radiotherapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Mucoepidermoid / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Biomarkers, Tumor