Salivary gland tumors are rare. Their cause isn't clear.
Salivary gland tumors begin when some cells in a salivary gland develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do.
The changes tell the cells to grow and divide rapidly. The abnormal cells go on living when healthy cells would die. The accumulating cells form a tumor.
If additional changes happen in the DNA, the abnormal cells may become cancerous. Cancer cells can invade and destroy nearby tissue. They can also break away from the tumor and spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.
Types of salivary gland tumors
Many different types of salivary gland tumors exist. Doctors classify salivary gland tumors based on the type of cells involved in the tumors. Knowing the type of salivary gland tumor you have helps your doctor determine which treatment options are best for you.
Types of noncancerous (benign) salivary gland tumors include:
- Pleomorphic adenoma
- Basal cell adenoma
- Canalicular adenoma
- Warthin tumor
Types of cancerous (malignant) salivary gland tumors include:
Acinic cell carcinoma
Adenoid cystic carcinoma
Clear cell carcinoma
Malignant mixed tumor
Polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma
Salivary duct carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma