Chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer

Men and women discussing salivary gland cancer

This page tells you about chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what’s on this page

Chemotherapy for salivary gland cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. The main treatment for salivary gland cancer is surgery. It isn’t usual to have chemotherapy for early stage salivary gland cancer. There isn’t enough evidence that it lowers the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery. But it is used when cancer is advanced and you can’t have surgery or radiotherapy.

Most chemotherapy has some side effects. Which particular side effects you experience will depend on the drugs you have. They may include

  • Feeling sick
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • A drop in blood cell counts
  • A change in how your kidneys work
  • Change to your lung tissue

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating salivary gland cancer section.

 

 

What chemotherapy is

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body.

 

Salivary gland cancer chemotherapy

The main treatment for salivary gland cancer is surgery. It isn’t usual to have chemotherapy for early stage salivary gland cancer. At the moment, there isn’t enough evidence that it lowers the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery. But chemotherapy treatment is used if the cancer is advanced and you can’t have surgery or radiotherapy.

The chemotherapy may include any of the following drugs

You can find out about the possible side effects of these drugs by using the links above. Or go to our cancer drugs side effects section.

 

Side effects of chemotherapy

Most chemotherapy has some side effects. The side effects depend on the drugs you have. They may also vary from person to person.

The side effects you may have include

You can find detailed information about chemotherapy and its side effects in our chemotherapy section.

 

Dietary or herbal supplements and chemotherapy

We don't yet know much scientifically about how some nutritional or herbal supplements may interact with chemotherapy. Some could be harmful. It is very important to let your doctors know if you take any supplements. Or if you are prescribed them by alternative or complementary therapy practitioners.

Talk to your specialist about any other tablets or medicines you take while you are having active treatment. There is information about the safety of herbal, vitamin and diet supplements in our complementary therapies section.

Some studies seem to suggest that fish oil preparations may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking or thinking of taking these supplements talk to your doctor to find out whether they could affect your treatment.

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Updated: 1 July 2014