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Salivary gland cancer treatment Worldwide: Best Hospitals, Doctors, Options, & Cost

Salivary gland cancer is rare, with only 3% of all head and neck malignant tumors. If we catch it early while it's still only in the salivary gland, 94% of patients live at least five years after diagnosis. If the cancer has reached nearby areas or lymph nodes, this number drops to 70%. But, if the cancer has spread farther in the body, the number falls to 43%. It means the salivary gland cancer treatment success drops as the disease worsens.

There are 22 kinds of salivary gland cancer; some types are rare but act more aggressively. Salivary duct carcinoma is an example. It's less than 10% of all cases but can be hard to treat. It becomes obvious why finding this disease early is crucial with proper treatment for salivary gland cancer.

Update: Apr 16, 2024

Best hospitals

Select the hospital for salivary gland cancer

Choosing the center or hospital for salivary gland cancer involves careful research. The top clinic or hospital should have a team of experts from different fields, follow international standards for diagnosing and treating the disease, offer surgical and non-surgical treatments, and provide rehabilitation services.

Patient experiences and success rates also matter. Besides these, it's good to look at the reputation of the medical center, how easy it is to get to, and the cost of treatment. In short, a suitable hospital for salivary gland cancer treatment should be well-reputed, easily accessible, and offer high-quality, affordable care.

At AiroMedical, we're here to help you find such a hospital, clinic, or center, always keeping your health as our top priority.

Top specialists

Prof. Dr. med. Tho­mas Vogl
Dr. med. Anett Tillmann, MBA
Prof. Dr. med. Roland Ladurner
Academic Hospital Martha-Maria Munich
general, abdominal, thoracic, endocrine, vascular and minimally invasive surgery
Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Muacevic
Prof. Dr. med. Harald-Robert Bruch, MSc, PhD
Oncological and Haematological Praxis Clinic Bonn
gastroenterology, hepatology, infectious diseases, oncology, hematology, pain therapy and nutritionology
Prof. Dr. med. Hans Hoffmann
Prof. Dr. med. Barbara Wollenberg
University Hospital Rechts der Isar Munich
otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, plastic-reconstructive surgery, oncology and immunology
Prof. Dr. med. Klaus Dietrich
Prof. Dr. med. Philipp M. Paprottka

Salivary gland cancer specialist choosing

Choosing among top salivary gland cancer doctors is a critical decision that significantly impacts your care. AiroMedical mentioned the most critical criteria helping to make an informed doctor’s choice.

If looking for a salivary gland cancer specialist doctor, consider specific training in head and neck oncology or otolaryngology, membership in reputable medical societies, scientific publications and research involvement, and working in a multidisciplinary team. When choosing salivary gland cancer, find a doctor with advanced diagnostic capabilities and a track record of successful outcomes.

Personal doctor features and patient feedback are valuable indicators. AiroMedical can assist in finding the right fit for your needs. With the right doctor, you can confidently navigate treatment and improve your chances of recovery.

Salivary gland cancer treatment

Salivary gland cancer treatment incorporates different methods, personalized according to the patient's health condition, the cancer's stage, and location. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy are common approaches.

Surgical options

Surgical salivary gland cancer treatment is often the first line for salivary gland cancer, with a specific method depending on the cancer's stage and location.

Salivary gland removal
The surgical removal of salivary glands, also known as parotidectomy, is a standard treatment for salivary gland cancer. Surgery type (partial or total displacement) depends on the tumor's location and size. Minor salivary glands can be removed with local excision, while major glands may require complete removal.

According to the study, after surgery, the salivary gland cancer treatment success rate in detail is: the rates for five-year overall survival (OS), disease-specific survival, local relapse-free survival, and distant metastasis-free survival were 78.4%, 89%, 92.5%, and 87.1% respectively.

Endoscopic & robotic surgery
Some surgeons utilize a less invasive approach, employing endoscopy for surgical procedures. This method involves using an endoscope, a unique instrument that allows visualization of internal structures like the nose or larynx. It's mainly employed when salivary gland cancer treatment is required in the area around the nose.

According to the study, patients who received such procedures experienced less blood loss during surgery, had smaller surgical cuts, and expressed higher satisfaction after the procedure, resulting decrease in salivary gland cancer treatment costs.

Neck dissection
A neck dissection might be necessary in cases where cancer is suspected of having spread or has a high chance of spreading to the lymph nodes in the neck. The surgeon examines all of the critical structures in the neck and extracts lymph nodes to prevent further spreading.

The treatment for stage 1 to stage 3 often involves this method if the lymph nodes are involved. The five-year survival rate varies depending on the stage but generally is around 80%. Neck dissection can cause various side effects, but depending on the dissection type, some may recover over a few months.

Reconstructive surgery
Surgery can be risky as cancer may be proximate to critical structures like the eyes, mouth, significant nerves, and blood vessels. Side of salivary gland cancer treatment effects can include temporary or permanent impacts on facial nerves.

Changes in appearance may need to be addressed using reconstructive plastic surgery to replace tissue and nerves that were removed to eliminate cancer. Treatment for stage 3 and higher involves serious reconstruction, using a titanium mesh and a unique ALTF technique (free anterolateral thigh flap) to rebuild the affected area.

Additional salivary gland cancer treatment, often radiation therapy, is typically recommended after surgery. Sometimes, multiple operations may be required. Further surgery or other treatments may be suggested if the cancer recurs. Occasionally, the operation may not be possible for some salivary tumors.


Radiation therapy is a standard treatment for salivary gland cancer, employing high-energy X-rays or other particles to eradicate cancer cells. This treatment is administered by a radiation oncologist within several weeks following surgery. Its aim can be to remove any residual cancer cells post-surgery or, when combined with chemotherapy, to decrease the size of larger tumors pre-surgery.

Forms of radiation therapy employed for salivary gland cancer treatment:

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
EBRT is a procedure where a machine positioned outside the body directs high-energy rays toward the tumor. This therapy is used as a salivary gland cancer treatment for stage 2 and others after surgical removal to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.

EBRT comes in various forms, each using advanced techniques to precisely focus radiation on tumors, limiting damage to healthy tissues.

3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
This method uses computers to map the tumor's location accurately. Multiple radiation beams are shaped and targeted at the tumor from various directions.

They concentrate a higher radiation dose on the tumor and minimize damage to normal tissues. Researchers discovered that the cancer-specific and overall survival rates were 83% and 78% for 5 years and 82% and 75% for 10 years, respectively.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
An advanced version of 3D-CRT, IMRT, not only shapes and directs beams at the tumor from different angles but also adjusts the beams' intensity to limit the dose reaching sensitive nearby tissues, allowing for a higher dose to the tumor.

The estimated survival rates after two years were 84% for overall survival, 73% for control of local-regional cancer, and 87% for survival without distant metastasis.

Proton beam radiation therapy
Unlike X-rays, which expose tissues to radiation before and after hitting the tumor, proton beams only travel a specific distance, minimizing radiation exposure to tissues behind the cancer.

It can deliver radiation to the tumor while causing less damage to surrounding tissues. 2-year local control and overall survival rates were 96% and 89%.

Fast neutron beam radiation
This method uses high-energy neutrons instead of X-rays. Some studies suggest it may be more effective but also cause more side effects. Fast neutron therapy is primarily used to tackle radioresistant and unresectable tumors that are hard to eliminate with standard radiation therapy.

As a result, the local control rates stood at 90%, 85%, and 85% after 5, 10, and 15 years respectively. Five years after treatment, 80% of the patients were still alive, but this number decreased to 60% after 10 years, mainly due to the emergence of distant metastases.

Iodine-125 seed brachytherapy
It is one of the salivary gland cancer treatment options. Internal radiotherapy directly places radioactive materials inside or near the tumor, allowing it to deliver a high radiation dose to the cancerous cells while limiting the exposure to healthy tissues.

The effectiveness of brachytherapy varies based on the type and stage of cancer, and it's often used with surgery or EBRT. The survival rates after 1, 3, and 5 years were 87%, 55.4%, and 47.5% respectively. The rates of being free from disease progression during the same periods were 73.9%, 47%, and 39.2%; local disease control was maintained at 82.1%, 73.9%, and 73.9%.

CyberKnife and Gamma Knife radiosurgery are used for precise radiation Salivary gland cancertreatment when the tumor has metastasized to the skull base or other areas.

The CyberKnife system is a device that uses a high-powered X-ray generator on a robotic arm. Each treatment is typically 45 to 90 minutes and is outpatient, meaning patients can go home afterward. Most patients complete Salivary gland cancertreatmentin a span of 7 days. As reported, the success rate was 100% after one year, which decreased to 75% after two years.

Treatments of salivary cancers spreading to the skull base also can use Gamma Knife technology. As reported, the success rate was 82% after about three years. These techniques target the tumor without damaging surrounding healthy tissues.

Radiation therapy, while effective in treating salivary gland cancer, can lead to certain side effects and complications. These might include skin changes (like redness or dryness), mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, taste changes, and jaw stiffness. Late effects can involve dental problems and changes in the tissues in the mouth and throat.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It's often used alongside radiation therapy, before or after surgery.

After & before surgery chemotherapy
After surgery, chemotherapy is sometimes used to kill any remaining cancer cells during salivary gland cancer treatment. These medications can be administered individually, though they are frequently combined, often involving two or more drugs.

The overall 5-year survival rate with adjuvant chemotherapy is around 50%. Chemotherapy can also be administered before surgery to shrink tumors, improving the chances of complete removal. It's often used in the treatment of late stages.

Palliative chemotherapy
This method is used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life in cases of treatment for stage 4. It doesn't cure the disease but slows its progression and alleviates discomfort. The study reported only an 18% response rate.
It is a treatment method combining chemotherapy and radiation. It targets salivary gland cancer cells that are too tiny to see without magnification and have a high risk of recurrence after surgery or those that can't be removed surgically.

Using chemoradiation for salivary gland cancer is not standard practice, as limited research supports its effectiveness. However, clinical trials show a promising 5–year survival rate of 58.9%, as reported.

Chemotherapy can cause systemic side effects like fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and a higher risk of infections due to lowered immunity. These effects are temporary and often subside after treatment ends. However, they may necessitate supportive care measures and occasional treatment delays or dosage adjustments. Communicating any side effects to your healthcare team for optimal management of these conditions is important.


The immune system, a sophisticated network of cells, organs, and proteins, plays a crucial role in combating cancer, including salivary gland cancer. Cancer can evade the immune system's defenses despite its complexity, leading to uncontrollable growth. This is where immunotherapy steps in, amplifying or restoring the immune system's capability to fight salivary gland cancer.

Immunotherapy varies in its approach. Some therapies slow the growth of cancer cells or eradicate them, while others prevent cancer from metastasizing to other body parts. The types of immunotherapy effective in salivary gland cancer treatment include:

Monoclonal antibodies & immune checkpoint inhibitors
They are lab-created proteins that function like or enhance the body's natural antibodies. They can attack cancer cells directly or block immune checkpoints - mechanisms cancer cells often use to hide from the immune system.

The drugs most frequently researched are those that function as inhibitors of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), a strategy to prevent the formation of new blood vessels in tumors. Of these, lenvatinib and axitinib have demonstrated notably favorable objective response rates of 11-16% and 9-17%, respectively.

Non-specific immunotherapies
These boost the overall system, aiding the fight against salivary gland cancer. The method is still under research. It includes cytokines (proteins that trigger the immune system) and oncolytic virus therapy, demonstrating tumor regression in the study.
Cancer vaccines
Vaccines expose the immune system to a foreign protein (antigen) associated with cancer, inducing an immune response against it. Reported about successful cancer vaccine use in some kinds of salivary gland cancer treatment.

The choice of immunotherapy, dosage, and frequency in salivary gland cancer treatment depends on several factors, including the type of cancer, its size and spread, the patient's age, overall health, body weight, and potential side effects.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically attack cancer cells. These drugs target specific parts of the cancer cells, slowing or stopping their growth.

Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
This drug targets cells that have too much of the HER2 protein. It's used in cases where the salivary gland cancer is HER2 positive.

Studies show that among patients who received treatment after the primary treatment to maximize its effectiveness, 62% were disease-free more than 2 years after they completed the therapy.

Lapatinib (Tykerb)
Lapatinib is used for late-stage patients who can't take Herceptin or when Herceptin isn't working. It targets HER2-positive tumors, like Herceptin.

The studies report that even though nobody completely recovered, the drug lapatinib was generally safe, and in 36% of the patients, it helped stop the cancer from growing for 6 months or more.

Alternative treatments

Alternative treatments & complementary therapies for salivary gland cancer, such as meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy, can be utilized alongside traditional treatments. Salivary gland cancer natural treatments don't cure cancer but can help manage symptoms, improve mental and physical well-being, and manage side effects from the primary treatment.

Rehabilitation & recovery

Rehabilitation is crucial for salivary gland cancer treatment recovery. This involves a multidisciplinary team approach that includes oncologists, nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, speech therapists, and other specialists. The goal is to help patients regain their strength, manage side effects, improve their quality of life, and facilitate a smooth transition back to daily activities.

Rehabilitation services might include dietary counseling to manage nutrition-related concerns, physical therapy to address fatigue and weakness, and speech therapy to manage speaking or swallowing difficulties.

Metastatic salivary gland cancer treatment

Treatment for metastatic salivary gland cancer, which has spread from the salivary gland to other parts of the body, usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, depending on where the cancer has spread.

Clinical trials investigating new treatments or different combinations of existing ones also provide another option for patients.

Numbers & results
Recent research has shed light on survival rates for salivary gland cancer. The study revealed that 5-year and 10-year survival rates post the occurrence of distant metastases are 43.5% and 14.5%, respectively. So, it underlines the importance of long-term observation and monitoring of these patients.

The salivary gland cancer treatment prognosis, or likely course and outcome, depends on several factors, including the type of cancer, its stage, and the patient's overall health. It is crucial for patients to engage in open conversations with their healthcare team to select the most suitable treatment plan for their salivary gland cancer.

A multidisciplinary approach in salivary gland cancer treatment involving various healthcare specialists can provide the most effective strategy, enhancing the chances of successful salivary gland cancer treatment and recovery.

Advantages of medical travel

Medical tourism is on the rise, especially in cancer treatment. This global trend sees patients traveling across borders, seeking the best healthcare facilities for their conditions. The benefits of looking abroad for treatment options are obvious for salivary gland cancer patients.

The list of benefits

Seven key accesses considering international treatment options for salivary gland cancer:

World-class expertise
Seeking salivary gland cancer treatment abroad provides an opportunity to be treated by leading oncologists and cancer specialists. These medical professionals often have tens of years of experience and have dealt with complex cancer cases, thus providing a higher assurance of quality care.
Advanced treatment options
International healthcare facilities often have cutting-edge technologies and therapies for salivary gland cancer treatment. This includes but is not limited to, minimally invasive surgery, innovative radiation therapy techniques, and experimental therapies such as targeted treatments.
Affordable healthcare
High healthcare costs can be a major obstacle for many patients. By exploring treatment options abroad, you may find that the cost of salivary gland cancer treatment, even with travel expenses, is significantly lower than in your home country without compromising the quality of care.
Reduced wait times
Often, patients have to endure long waiting periods before starting salivary gland cancer treatment in their home country. However, one significant benefit of seeking treatment abroad is a quicker diagnosis and commencement of treatment, leading to reduced psychological stress and a head start on fighting the disease.
Customized treatment plans
Medical facilities catering to international patients are known for creating comprehensive and personalized salivary gland cancer treatment plans. These consider your specific health requirements, medical history, and personal preferences. This holistic approach ensures a more effective and patient-friendly treatment experience.
Second opinions
Medical travel opens the door to obtaining a second or even third opinion from internationally acclaimed oncologists. This allows for refining your salivary gland cancer treatment strategy, a more comprehensive understanding of your condition, and, ultimately, greater confidence in your chosen treatment pathway.
Comprehensive aftercare
Receiving salivary gland cancer treatment abroad often comes with all-inclusive aftercare packages. This typically includes follow-up consultations, nutritional counseling, physical therapy, rehabilitation, etc. Such comprehensive aftercare can play a crucial role in improving the effectiveness of the treatment and enhancing the overall recovery experience.

With these key accesses, medical tourism provides a viable and effective treatment option for salivary gland cancer. AiroMedical acts as your trusted ally throughout your salivary gland cancer treatment journey. We connect you with globally recognized medical facilities, ensuring you receive the best possible care. Our services extend beyond treatment exploration, connect the best providers with their patients, manage all logistical aspects, such as travel and accommodation, and offer necessary guidance for managing treatment complications and accessing required services.

At AiroMedical, geographical boundaries should not limit your healthcare options. Connect with us to navigate your treatment path confidently and safely.

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