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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Jun 10;24(17):2673-8.

Systemic therapy in the palliative management of advanced salivary gland cancers.

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Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre, the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.


Cancers of the salivary glands are unusual lesions that vary widely in their histologic appearance and molecular characteristics. Likewise, there is a wide spectrum of biologic behavior, ranging from low-grade, minimally invasive tumors, to highly lethal malignancies. There are few data on the role of systemic therapies in the management of these cancers, and chemotherapy is generally reserved for the palliative management of advanced disease that is not amenable to local therapies such as surgery and/or radiation. The majority of patients for whom systemic therapy is considered will have either adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, or high-grade adenocarcinoma. This article will review the available literature regarding the use of palliative chemotherapy for patients with advanced salivary gland cancer of these histologies, with an emphasis on the potential role of targeted agents. There is a need for a determined, coordinated effort to conduct high-quality clinical trials in patients with these rare cancers.

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