Treatment Options for a Dog with Salivary Gland Tumors

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My 8 1/2 year old Cocker Spaniel (female, spayed) has cancer in her salivary glands. We were told that this is a very uncommon cancer as it is in the glands and is not a sarcoma.  
Could you possibly ouline a treatment plan?

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

Salivary gland tumors are an uncommon cancer that generally occur in older dogs. Most tumors in this location are malignant, with the most common type being carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Tumors can arise in any of the discrete major salivary glands, and they can also arise diffusely in the salivary tissue that is present in the lips and tongue. These tumors can often spread to the regional lymph nodes and occasionally the lungs, although progression of the disease might be relatively slow.

The treatment of choice is to remove the affected salivary glands if possible, followed by radiation therapy for local control. Chemotherapy might also be recommended if there is concern about metastasis or if surgery and/or radiation are not options.