Patients with high-grade salivary gland cancer usually suffer unfavorable prognosis. Those with early-stage disease, however, can expect to have an excellent prognosis showing more than a 90 percent survival rate, with just surgery and adjuvant radiation, a local research team found.
|Professor Jeong Han-sin|
Salivary gland cancer is rare cancer affecting 1.4 people out of 100,000. If the disease is diagnosed late, it can be fatal with the five-year survival rate of high-grade malignant salivary gland cancer remaining at 50- 60 percent.
A team at Samsung Medical Center, led by Professor Jeong Han-sin, Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, published research results on 124 patients diagnosed with high-grade malignant salivary gland cancer from 1995 to 2014, to analyze the critical factors that determine prognosis.
The study was published in the recent issue of BMC Cancer, an international cancer journal.
According to the research team, the average age of patients was 61 years, with three times more male patients than female patients.
About 50 percent of patients were in the primary stages of stage 1 and 2 at the time of diagnosis. The remaining 48 percent had advanced cancers of stage 3 and 4. About 50 percent had metastasis to the surrounding lymph nodes while 12 percent had metastasis to other remote areas such as the lung or bone.
The researchers looked at the age and sex of these patients, the degree of disease progression, and the course of treatment to determine what decisively influences the prognosis of patients.
They found the five-year disease-specific survival rate of all patients with salivary gland cancer was 63.4 percent, and the survival rate was significantly differed based on whether cancer had spread or not.
The survival rate was high, standing at 93.2 percent, in the case of no metastasis or when the tumor size was small even with high-grade malignant salivary gland cancer.
The cancer survival rate fell a bit to 76.2 percent when cancer grew to stage 3 or stage 4, but there was no metastasis.
However, the survival rate drastically dropped if cancer had already metastasized at the time of diagnosis. The five-year survival rate was only 44.6 percent with lymph node metastasis and 21.1 percent with distant metastasis. The median overall survival rate was only 20 months.
Researchers found the risk of death increases 5.6 fold in the presence of lymph node metastasis and increases 4.6 times with distant metastasis.
For this reason, the research team emphasized the importance of early diagnosis and recommended patients partake in active consultation with ENT specialists on finding unusual symptoms along with conducting self-examinations.
Self-examinations involve touching the related areas and checking for previously unfelt lumps. The initial symptoms of salivary gland cancer are the presence of painless lumps near the salivary gland. The typical obtrusive locations are in the anterior part of the ear, called the parotid gland, and below the jaw bone, called the submandibular gland.
In particular, men aged 50 years or older should visit the hospital immediately to check for the presence of a tumor upon experiencing symptoms, the hospital said.
"The initial survival rate of salivary gland cancer is as high as 90 percent if caught early, but the prognosis is worse than other carcinomas if patients miss the right timing," Professor Jeong said. "It is important to frequently check the onset areas following the middle ages, especially considering cancer occurs mainly in those over 50, and talk to your doctor to determine the presence of cancer.”
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