Salivary Gland Problems
Causes of Salivary Gland Problems continued...
Tumors. Several different types of tumors can affect the salivary glands. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). The two most common tumors are pleomorphic adenomas and Warthin's tumor.
Pleomorphic adenomas most commonly affect the parotid glands, but can also affect the submandibular gland and minor salivary glands. The tumor is usually painless and grows slowly. Pleomorphic adenomas are benign (noncancerous) and are more common in women than men.
Warthin's tumor is also benign and affects the parotid gland. Warthin's tumor can grow on both sides of the face and affects more men than women.
While most salivary gland tumors are benign, some can be cancerous. Malignant tumors include mucoepidermoid carcinoma, adenocystic carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, low-grade polymorphous adenocarcinoma, and malignant mixed tumor.
Sjögren's syndrome. This is a chronic autoimmune disease in which cells of a person's immune system attack the salivary and other moisture-producing glands, leading to dry mouth and eyes.
About half of people with Sjögren's syndrome also have enlargement of the salivary glands on both sides of the mouth, which is usually painless.
Treatment for Salivary Gland Problems
Treatment for salivary gland problems depends on the cause.
For stones and other blockages of the ducts, treatment often begins with measures such as manual removal of stones, warm compresses, or sour candies to increase the flow of saliva. If simple measures don't relieve the problem, surgery may be required to remove the blockage and/or the affected gland.
Surgery is usually required to remove benign and malignant tumors. Some benign tumors are treated with radiation to keep them from coming back. Some cancerous tumors require radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery may also be needed to treat large cysts.
Other problems may be treated with medications. For example, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Medications can also be prescribed for dry mouth.