The salivary glands are organs found on each side of the face. They make saliva and lubrication fluid found in the mouth and throat. Saliva has enzymes that begin the process of breaking down food, contain antibodies, and substances that help mouth and throat infections.
Most commonly, tumors occur in the three major salivary glands. These include:
- Parotid glands (inside each cheek)
- Submandibular glands (below the jawbone)
- Sublingual glands (along the floor of the oral cavity)
The parotid & submandibular glands make up two of the three major salivary glands in the body that secrete saliva near the upper teeth and under the tongue, and help aid in digestion, oral lubrication and hygiene, and protection against tooth decay. These glands are susceptible to benign or malignant tumors that appear as a lump in front of or below the ear. Parotid & submandibular gland tumors can spread from other areas of the body to enter the gland through the lymphatic system, and may include lymphomas, melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma, among others.
Sublingual glands is the smallest of the three salivary glands. Sublingual glands primarily produce mucus. It produces lubricates the tissue of the mouth to help break down food and allows you to swallow it.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose parotid & gland tumors may include:
- Physical Exam:
- The physician will examine the jaw, neck, and throat for lumps or swelling.
- A biopsy is required to diagnose the airway and sample the tissue.
- Imaging Tests:
- CT scan
Frequently Asked Questions
Parotid glands produce a specific type of saliva that releases amylase. Amylase is a protein that helps start starch digestion.
The saliva produced by the parotid glands have a key role on your health:
- Keep the mouth lubricated for chewing
- Help with digestion
- Reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth
- Help protect your teeth from cavities
- When stones form in your salivary gland or ducts, which may block the flow of saliva.
- Parotid Gland Tumors
- Parotid Gland Cancer