Salivary Gland Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

  • What type of salivary gland cancer do I have? What does this mean?
  • Where exactly is it located?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What stage is the cancer? What does this mean?
  • What is the grade of the cancer? What is its likely behavior?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • Can the tumor be completely removed by surgery? Do you recommend additional treatment, such as radiation therapy?
  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • Will it be necessary to remove part or all of the facial nerve? If so, can this nerve be reconstructed or can some of the function be recovered?
  • If surgery is needed, will it be necessary to have reconstruction to replace lost tissue (mandible)?
  • If surgery is needed, will there be a need for a neck dissection (removing lymph nodes)? If so, what type of dissection will be done? What does this mean?
  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • When should I talk with a dentist? Can you recommend an oncologic dentist?
  • Should I talk with other specialists, such as a speech pathologist, before treatment begins?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, or perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.