Salivary gland cancer

This is a very rare form of cancer and accounts for only 2% of head and neck cancers. The salivary glands are divided into two groups: the major glands and the minor glands. There are three major glands: the parotid, submandibular and the sublingual glands. The majority of cancers form in the major glands in particular the parotid gland. 


There are quite a few things that can be symptomatic of Salivary Gland Cancer - please remember that these can also be symptoms for a whole range of illnesses not just cancer. The best thing you can do if you are worried is go to your doctor and get checked over.

The chances are very low that you have cancer but it is always better to get checked as soon as possible. Most cancer treatment works better with early detection, so please do not worry but DO get your doctor to check you over if you have any of these symptoms for more than three weeks:

  • sore throat/hoarse voice

  • lump in the neck

  • red/white patches in the throat

  • difficulty swallowing

  • unusual weight loss

  • stiff/difficult to move jaw

  • unexplained bleeding in the mouth

  • loose teeth

  • bad breath

  • ulcers in the mouth which do not heal

As you can see the symptoms can appear to be fairly common place and in most cases it will not be cancer. However, if you do have these symptoms for a prolonged period of time please make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can.

You can find your nearest NHS GP here. If you cannot find a GP near you there will be walk in clinics at hospitals which you can attend too.

Do you have a question we haven't answered here? Our team of cancer experts are standing by.

Read more

Want to make a long-lasting difference? Help us get straight to the people at the top.

Read more