Symptoms of salivary gland cancer

Salivary gland cancer is a rare cancer. Possible symptoms include:

  • a painless lump or swelling in your jaw, cheek, mouth or neck 
  • numbness in a part of your face
  • drooping on one side of your face (facial palsy)
  • pain in the area of the lump or swelling
  • problems swallowing
  • difficulty opening your mouth fully
  • swelling on one side of your face

Many of these signs and symptoms can be caused by benign (non-cancerous) salivary gland tumours or by other conditions.

When to see your doctor

It is important to get any unusual symptoms checked out by your doctor. They can examine you and do further tests if necessary. 

  • Suspected cancer: recognition and referral
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2015

  • Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer
    Healthcare Improvement Scotland, 2014  

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

  • Textbook of uncommon cancer
    D Raghavan and others
    Wiley Blackwell, 2017

  • Cancer principles and practice of oncology (12th edition)
    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2023

  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. Please contact with details of the particular issue you are interested in if you need additional references for this information.

Last reviewed: 
21 Mar 2023
Next review due: 
21 Mar 2026

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