Some people with salivary gland tumors receive radiation therapy as their main treatment or along with other treatments. If your tumor is too large to remove surgically or in a position that makes it hard to operate on, or if your health is poor and surgery may be risky, then your doctor may suggest radiation as your main treatment.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. People with salivary gland tumors receive external radiation therapy. A machine outside the body delivers a dose of radiation that travels through the outer structures, such as the skin, into deeper areas of the body. (For other types of cancer, radiation is sometimes given internally, through implanted radioactive “seeds” or other methods.)
Your doctor may choose standard radiation or a type called neutron therapy that is more powerful than standard radiation and may be especially effective against salivary gland tumors. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is one of only three facilities in the United States that offers neutron therapy.
Salivary gland tumor patients at SCCA receive radiation and neutron therapy at University of Washington Medical Center, a SCCA parent organization.