The largest salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands, however there are many more smaller ones throughout the mouth. Problems can arise in these glands due to stones, infections, and the development of tumours both benign and malignant.
People can have problems with swallowing for a variety of functional or mechanical reasons. These can range from poor muscle control, strictures, pharyngeal pouches and even tumours of the throat. Most people who have persisting difficulty in swallowing should have an ENT assessment to exclude sinister causes.
Head and neck cancer
Cancers of the head and neck can arise from almost any structure in this region. Most commonly these are seen arising from the lining of the mouth or throat, or the skin of the face or scalp. These cancers can be caused by smoking, alcohol use, virus infection, sun exposure and a variety of other factors.
They can present in a number of ways including:
- persisting throat pain
- difficulty swallowing
- change in voice
- an ulcer in the mouth
- a lump in the neck
Treatment of head and neck cancer is complex and requires input from a variety of health care professionals including ENT surgeons, Radiation and Medical oncologists, Plastic surgeons, and Speech Therapists. Both Dr Gundelach and Dr Wallwork are members of the Head and Neck Clinic at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. Here their patients can be assessed in a multidisciplinary setting. Depending on the site and extent of the cancer treatment often involves surgery and/or radiation therapy.