Salivary Gland Cancer
Salivary glands make saliva to help you swallow, chew and digest food and to keep your throat moist. You have a set of three major glands inside and near your mouth on each side of your face. The parotid glands are in front of your ears, the submandibular glands are below your jaw and the sublingual glands are under the floor of your mouth. You also have hundreds of microscopic minor salivary glands in the moist linings throughout your oral cavity, nose, paranasal sinuses, pharynx (throat) and larynx (voice box).
Many tumor types can develop in the major salivary glands, although many are not malignant (cancerous). Tumors in the minor glands are relatively rare but are more often malignant.
Salivary gland cancer may be found during a routine dental visit or physical exam. Symptoms may include a lump in an ear, cheek, jaw, lip or inside the mouth; fluid draining from the ear; trouble swallowing; difficulty opening the mouth wide; facial numbness or weakness; or persistent facial pain.