Salivary Gland Cancer

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is a leading center in the treatment of salivary gland cancer. Together, our scientists and clinicians — from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine — provide hope for those with salivary gland cancer. UW Medicine is one of only three facilities in the United States that offers neutron therapy, an especially powerful kind of radiation therapy that's been shown to be effective against salivary gland tumors and some other forms of cancer.

As a patient here, you'll be cared for by a team of physicians, including a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and a surgeon. Fred Hutch was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. This means that people who have salivary gland cancer will find more treatment options than might be found elsewhere, including participation in one of the clinical trials conducted at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.

What to Expect

A diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team of specialists ready to help you adjust to what’s happening. We have dedicated information for patient’s practical and emotional support.

Ask someone you trust to go with you to physicians' appointments and tests. This person can provide emotional support. A friend can also help by keeping track of the questions you want to ask, taking notes and doing research on your disease and treatment options.

Where Will I Be Seen?

Fred Hutch is one of only three facilities in the United States to offer neutron therapy, a type of radiation therapy shown to be very effective against salivary gland tumors. If your team at Fred Hutch recommends neutron therapy for you, the unique Clinical Neutron Therapy System (CNTS) is available at UW Medical Center- Montlake .

Your First Appointment

You will have a personal care team at Fred Hutch that includes a hematologist-oncologist, a nurse case manager, and a radiation oncologist, if needed. We will also involve a head and neck surgeon (otolaryngologist) from UW Medicine, if you may need surgery.

Before your first visit, the team will have reviewed your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) and any scans or tests you have already had. If you do not live in or near Seattle, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange for additional tests or scans so that these results are available before your appointment at Fred Hutch.

On your first visit to Fred Hutch, you will first meet with your physician, who will ask you questions about your medical history and your current problem. This will be followed by a physical exam. Then, you will sit down for a conference with your physician and other members of your team to discuss a treatment plan. This visit usually lasts two hours. We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment for emotional support and to help you keep track of the information your team will be giving you.

Follow-Up After Treatment

Continuing to have follow-up appointments with your physician is very important to monitor your health during and after treatment to prevent possible complications of your disease and treatment. Depending on your condition, you may need follow-up visits as frequently as every week or only every six months. Your physician can tell you how often you need to visit and why this schedule is important for you.

Learn About Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary glands make and release saliva that lubricates your mouth and throat, starts the digestion of your food, and coats the lining of the upper airway to help protect you from infections. Tumors, either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer), can arise in any of these glands.

Facts & Resources

Treatment for Salivary Gland Cancer

Depending on the stage of your salivary gland tumor and the effects it’s having on your body, your physician may recommend a combination of treatment options. The right treatment for you also depends on other factors, like the position, histology, and grade of your tumor, and your overall health. (Histology is the study of tissues and cells. The histology of your tumor relates to the nature of the tumor cells.)


Salivary Gland Cancer Care Team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like registered dieticians, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Care Team

Latest Treatments and Clinical Trials

Fred Hutch was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For salivary gland cancer patients, this means more treatment options than you might find elsewhere, including the chance to participate in one of many ongoing clinical trials conducted at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.

Many patients at Fred Hutch receive promising therapies by taking part in clinical trials. These research studies are done by physician-scientists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine. They test new treatments or new ways to use current treatments.

Every advance in cancer treatment in recent years has come out of clinical trials. We offer more active clinical trials than anywhere else, which means more treatment options for patients like you.

For some people, taking part in a clinical study may be the best treatment choice. Access to clinical studies by researchers at both Fred Hutch and UW Medicine is one reason many patients come to us for care.

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Alec Hill January 1, 2018