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Unusual Cancers of the Head and Neck

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

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

    See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.

    Treatment

    Treatment of oral cancer in children may include the following:

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

    See the following PDQ summaries for more information:

    • Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment
    • Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment
    • Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis Treatment

    Salivary Gland Tumors

    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 for leukemia or solid tumors.

    Symptoms and Diagnostic and Staging Tests

    Salivary gland tumors may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if you see any of the following problems in your child:

    • 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 symptoms.

    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.

    See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.

    Prognosis

    The prognosis for salivary gland cancer is usually good.

    Treatment

    Treatment of salivary gland cancer in children is usually surgery to remove the cancer, with or without radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

    See the PDQ summary on adult Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment for more information.

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