Tumors of the submaxillary gland

Spiro, R.H.; Hajdu, S.I.; Strong, E.W.

American Journal of Surgery 132(4): 463-468


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-9610
PMID: 189626
DOI: 10.1016/0002-9610(76)90320-2
Accession: 068523410

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This study reviews a thirty year experience with 217 patients who had a tumor of the submaxillary gland, comprising about 9 per cent of all patients with salivary neoplasms seen during the same period. Most of the tumors were malignant (56 per cent), with adenoid cystic carcinoma predominating, but the histologic type most frequently encountered was benign mixed tumor (43 per cent). Median age was fifty-four years in patients with malignant tumors compared with forty-six years in those with benign tumors, and 58 per cent were women. Asymptomatic swelling was the usual presenting complaint, and the clinical findings are summarized using a staging system recently proposed for patients with parotid tumors. Cervical lymph node metastasis occurred in at least 50 per cent of patients who had an adenocarcinoma or epidermoid, mucoepidermoid, or anaplastic carcinoma. Treatment was surgical and complete gland excision proved adequate in those with benign tumors. Radical neck dissection was performed in conjunction with submaxillary resection in most patients with malignant lesions, but radical en bloc resection was reserved for those few who had extensive or fixed disease. Net determinate "cure" rates at five and ten years (30 and 20 per cent, respectively) are distressingly low and compare unfavorably with those previously reported in patients treated for carcinoma of the parotid. The high local recurrence rate and the greater incidence in the submaxillary gland of more aggressive tumor types which metastasize readily suggest that current treatment should be more radical. It seems reasonable to expect that results might be improved if en bloc resections were more often performed in patients with less advanced disease, possibly in conjuction with intensive postoperative irradiation in selected cases.