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International Journal of Otolaryngology
Volume 2011, Article ID 187623, 9 pages
Review Article

Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Malignant Salivary Gland Tumors: Lessons Learned from Breast Cancer

1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Ehime 791-0295, Japan
2California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA

Received 13 April 2011; Revised 26 August 2011; Accepted 27 August 2011

Academic Editor: David W. Eisele

Copyright © 2011 Ryuichi Murase et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Malignant salivary gland tumors (MSGTs) account for 2–6% of all head and neck cancers. Despite the rarity, MSGTs have been of great interest due to a wide variety of pathological features and high metastasis rates resulting in poor prognosis. Surgical resection followed by radiation therapy represents the main treatment of this malignancy. Adjuvant therapy is reserved for the management of local recurrence, no longer amenable to additional local therapy, and for metastasis. Based on the studies from other types of tumors, particularly breast cancer, the expression and function of sex steroid hormone receptors in cancer have been extensively studied and applied to diagnosis and treatment. Although a number of studies in MSGTs have been published, the rationale for hormone therapy is still controversial due to the disparate results and insufficient number of cases. However, some recent reports have demonstrated that certain salivary gland neoplasms are similar to breast cancer, not only in terms of the pathological features, but also at the molecular level. Here, we shed light on the biological similarity between MSGTs and certain types of breast cancer, and describe the potential use of hormone and additional therapies for MSGTs.