My dad was dx w/ sqamous cell ca of the parotid gland. This...

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the parotid gland. This was a primary tumor. He did have part of the salivary gland removed. They did not remove entire lymph node due to frozen section showed benign findings. Came back 2 weeks later, after sending to Boston General, and said this was malignant. He has seen an oncologist and radiation doctor. He will be starting radiation next week. They say that chemo. is not needed but my concern is that path report showed some lymphatic invasion but doctor could not see this. NO swollen glands in neck. I understand that primary tumor of parotid gland is more aggressive than non primary. Would it be to his benefit to adjunctive chemotherapy just in case there were some cells invaded?

Expert Answers

Linda Ackerman, R.N. has clinical experience in oncology, women's health, and medical nursing. She has been practicing for more than 20 years and is a licensed registered nurse in both Florida and Wisconsin. In addition, she serves as a board member of Breast Cancer Recovery and the Wisconsin Cancer Council.

To answer your question, yes, adjunctive chemotherapy is sometimes recommended for the type of cancer your dad is diagnosed with.

Adjunctive chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells in addition to the radiation recommended. Although, as with any of the treatments for cancer, adding chemotherapy could also cause additional side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as fatique, loss of appetite, and decrease red and white blood counts.

Parotid gland cancer is a more rare cancer, with that in mind; you may want to ask the oncologist and radiation doctor about their experience with treating this type of cancer. You may also request that they share the clinical guideline they are following when treating your dad.

The National Cancer Institute web site provides excellent detailed information regarding standards of care/treatment for head and neck cancers. You can access this information by clicking on this link.

I would also encourage you and your dad to seek a second opinion and or look for treatment that is provided by a team of specialists. Specifically for your dad, the following specialists would be recommended, oral surgeon or a throat surgeon, pathologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, dentist, dietitian, social worker, and a nurse.