Salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps your mouth moist and helps with swallowing and digestion.

There are three main pairs of salivary glands. They are the:

  • parotid glands – located between your cheeks and your ears
  • sublingual glands – located under your tongue
  • submandibular glands – located under each side of your jawbone

There are also several hundred very small glands throughout the mouth and throat called minor salivary glands which help in lubrication.

Overall, salivary gland cancers are rare.

The main symptom of salivary gland cancer is a lump or swelling on or near your jaw, or in your mouth or neck, although the vast majority of these lumps are non-cancerous. Other symptoms can include; increasing pain, numbness in part of your face and drooping on one side of your face.

To read more about salivary gland cancer, visit Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Read more about diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer at UCLH.