What is salivary gland cancer?

Salivary gland cancer is a rare type of head and neck cancer. It starts in one of the salivary glands inside or near your mouth. 

Symptoms of salivary gland cancer

The most common symptom of salivary gland cancer is a swelling on the side of the face, just in front of the ear or under the jawbone.

Getting diagnosed with salivary gland cancer

You usually start by seeing your GP and they might refer you to a specialist and organise tests. 

TNM staging for salivary gland cancer

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. The TNM staging system is used to stage salivary gland cancer. 

Types of salivary gland cancer

The type of salivary gland cancer means the type of cell the cancer started in. Mucoepidermoid carcinomas are the most common type of salivary gland cancer. 

Risks and causes of salivary gland cancer

Your risk of salivary gland cancer increases with age. Radiation treatment to the head and neck area can also increase your risk. 

Survival for salivary gland cancer

Survival for salivary gland cancer depends on several factors. These include the type and stage of your cancer. 

Treatment for salivary gland cancer

Treatment for salivary gland cancer depends on where the cancer is, the size, whether it has spread anywhere else and your health. 

Research and clinical trials for salivary gland cancer

Find out about the latest UK research looking at salivary gland cancer as well as information about clinical trials.

Living with salivary gland cancer

Getting practical and emotional support can help you to cope with a diagnosis of salivary gland cancer. It can also help you with life during and after treatment. 

Last reviewed: 
12 May 2023
Next review due: 
12 May 2026

Page Credits: 

This section has been written, reviewed and updated by Cancer Research UK’s Patient Information Web Team. Thanks to the expert medical professionals and people affected by cancer who have helped to review this information.

  • Professor Christopher Nutting (Consultant Clinical Oncologist)
  • Our lay reviewers