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Semin Oncol. 2008 Jun;35(3):309-19. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2008.03.009.

Salivary gland malignancies: the role for chemotherapy and molecular targeted agents.

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Salivary gland tumors are a rare and clinically diverse group of neoplasms that represent less than 1% of all malignancies. In locoregional recurrent or metastatic disease, systemic therapy is the standard approach. Numerous phase II studies with small sample sizes have assessed the activity of different cytotoxic agents, either alone or in combination. For these agents, the objective response rates are generally modest, ranging from 15% to 50%. Duration of response is typically cited in the range of 6 to 9 months. Further evaluation of novel therapies is mandated in this disease. With the emergence of molecular targeted therapy, these tumors become optimal candidates for trials of investigational drugs and established drugs for new indications. Often, salivary gland carcinomas are indolent. As such, one should wish only to treat patients with progressive disease. Study designs must incorporate stringent inclusion criteria to enable accurate reporting of disease response and stabilization, especially in the evaluation of new drugs and novel combinations. Salivary gland-focused cooperative groups are necessary in order to accrue patients to these clinical trials and establish new treatment guidelines for these patients.

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