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Oral Cancer and Salivary Gland Cancer in Children

Oral Cancer and Salivary Gland Cancer in Children Related Articles

What Is Oral Cancer and Salivary Gland Cancer?

Oral cavity cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the mouth. The oral cavity includes the following:

  • The front two thirds of the tongue.
  • The gingiva (gums).
  • The buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks).
  • The floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue.
  • The hard palate (the roof of the mouth).
  • The retromolar trigone (the small area behind the wisdom teeth).

Most tumors in the oral cavity are benign (not cancer). The most common type of oral cavity cancer in adults, squamous cell carcinoma (cancer of the thin, flat cells lining the mouth), is very rare in children. Malignant tumors in children include lymphomas and sarcomas.

Salivary gland tumors form in the salivary glands, which are small organs in the mouth and throat that make saliva. Most salivary gland tumors form in the parotid glands (just in front of and below each ear) or in the salivary glands under the tongue or near the jaw.

In children, most salivary gland tumors are benign (noncancer). Some salivary gland tumors are malignant (cancer), especially in young children. Malignant tumors sometimes form after treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy for leukemia or solid tumors.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral and Salivary Gland Cancer?

Oral cavity cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • A sore in the mouth that does not heal.
  • A lump or thickening in the oral cavity.
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth.
  • Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth.

Other conditions that are not oral cavity cancer may cause these same signs and symptoms.

Salivary gland tumors may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • A lump (usually painless) near the ear, cheek, jaw, or lip, or inside the mouth.
  • Fluid draining from the ear.
  • Trouble swallowing or opening the mouth widely.
  • Numbness or weakness in the face.
  • Pain in the face that does not go away.

Other conditions that are not salivary gland tumors may cause these same signs and symptoms.

How Are Oral and Salivary Gland Cancers Diagnosed?

Tests to diagnose and stage oral cavity cancer may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • X-ray.
  • MRI of the head and neck.
  • CT scan.
  • PET scan.
  • Biopsy.

Tests to diagnose and stage salivary gland cancer may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • MRI of the head and neck.
  • CT scan.
  • PET scan.
  • Ultrasound.

What Is the Treatment for Oral and Salivary Gland Cancer?

Treatment of oral cavity cancer in children may include the following:

  • Surgery for benign tumors.
  • Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy for malignant tumors.

Treatment of salivary gland cancer includes the following:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer. Radiation therapy may also be given if the tumor has spread to lymph nodes,
  • lymph vessels, blood vessels, or nearby tissue.

For more information, read our full medical article on oral cancer symptoms, signs, treatment, and prognosis.

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References
SOURCE:

The website of the National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov)

Last updated Oct. 6, 2017
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