Some cells in the salivary gland can multiply and form a tumor; the cause for this is not known. Tumors are mostly developed in the parotid gland (above the jaw angle), and are mostly benign. They generally develop slowly over the course of several years, and the glands gradually swells. The gland is constantly swollen, but there are no other symptoms.
In some cases, there is a danger that the tumor is (or becomes) malignant. Cancerous salivary gland tumors are very rare, and they account for less than 1% of the total number of cancer cases.
If any of the salivary glands has swollen, or if you feel the pain or discomfort in the mouth, you should go to the doctor. You may also have to go to the hospital for sialography – an examination of the salivary gland to find out whether the cause of the condition is a tumor or salivary gland stone.
If a tumor is diagnosed, the doctor may advise you on a surgical procedure; a small tumor that develops slowly may not need to be removed, but a regular control is required. If the tumor is malignant and if its cells are spreading, radiotherapy will be used. In parotid gland surgery there is a risk of damage to the adjacent nerve that controls the movements of the lower part of the face. Damage is often inevitable if a tumor is big, though the facial appearance can often be improved by later, additional surgery.