Symptoms of salivary gland cancer

The signs or symptoms of salivary gland cancer may vary depending on where the tumour is growing. Non-cancerous salivary gland tumours and other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as salivary gland cancer.

The most common sign of salivary gland cancer is a painless lump in your jaw, cheek, mouth or neck. Other signs and symptoms of salivary gland cancer include:

  • pain in your mouth, ear, jaw, throat or neck that doesn't go away
  • trouble opening your mouth widely (called trismus)

  • numbness (lack of feeling) in part of your face

  • drooping or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face

  • twitching of muscles on your face

  • problems swallowing and drooling

  • tearing in one eye

  • problems closing an eye

  • blood in your saliva

  • changes to your voice

  • stuffy nose

  • changes to the skin over a lump on the jaw, cheek, mouth or neck

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Salivary Gland Cancer. American Cancer Society; 2014: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/salivaryglandcancer/index.
  • Carr,E . Head and neck malignancies. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. (eds.). Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett; 2011: Chapter 56. p:1334-1368.
  • Mendenhall WM, Werning JW and Pfister DG . Treatment of head and neck cancer. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 72:729-80.
  • National Cancer Institute. Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2014.
  • Vander Poorten VLM, Marchal F, Nuyts S & Clement PMJ . Parotid carcinoma: current diagnostic workup and treatment. Indian Journal of Surgical Oncology. Springer; 2010.