Salivary gland cancer 

Salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps your mouth moist and helps with swallowing and digestion.

There are three main pairs of salivary glands. They are the:

  • parotid glands – located between your cheeks and your ears
  • sublingual glands – located under your tongue
  • submandibular glands – located under each side of your jawbone

There are also several hundred very small glands throughout the mouth and throat called minor salivary glands which help in lubrication

Overall, salivary gland cancers are rare.

The main symptom of salivary gland cancer is a lump or swelling on or near your jaw, or in your mouth or neck, although the vast majority of these lumps are non-cancerous. Other symptoms can include; increasing pain, numbness in part of your face and drooping on one side of your face.

To read more about salivary gland cancer, visit Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Read more about diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer at UCLH.

 Consultants

Miss Safina Ali, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Safina Ali

Safina Ali was recently appointed as part of the head and neck consultant team from The Royal London Hospital. Having trained in Scotland she has completed two clinical fellowships in advanced head and neck surgery, reconstruction and cranio-facial resection at Guys and St Thomas' and Charing Cross Hospitals respectively.

She also holds a research fellowship from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York. Her areas of expertise are treating benign and malignant diseases of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, thyroid and salivary glands. Her research interests include clinical outcomes, and quality of life issues in head and neck cancer patients. She has also collaborated with the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio on creating risk stratification models on counselling patients with cancer.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

Mr Ghassan Alusi, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Ghassan Alusi

Mr Ghassan Alusi joins UCLH as part of the head and neck consultant team from The Royal London Hospital. He is deeply involved in research into image guided surgery, for which he was awarded a PhD by Leicester University.

Mr Alusi manages complex head and neck surgery and thyroid disorders. He is a senior surgeon within the Head and Neck Unit at Barts and The Royal London NHS Trust.

Mr Alusi's general training was at The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear, St Bartholomew's, The Royal Marsden and The Royal Free Hospital. He became a Consultant at St Bartholomew's and The Royal London Hospitals in 2000.

Mr Khalid Ghufoor, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Khalid Ghufoor

Mr Khalid Ghufoor was appointed as a consultant in ENT head and neck surgery 2002 at St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Hospitals. He has a specialist interest in minimal access surgical techniques for dealing with cancers of the head and neck particularly transoral microscopic laser surgery. He has developed a sub-specialist interest in thyroid and salivary gland surgery, laryngeal and pharyngeal tumours, airway restorative surgery and rehabilitative surgery for laryngopharyngeal dysfunction following treatment of cancer of the head and neck. He has also worked at the Royal national Throat Nose and Ear Hospital since 2005 running a tertiary laryngotracheal service. He is the head of the ENT department at Barts Health since 2014. Mr Ghufoor has been a programme and training director for North Thames ENT since 2011.

Mr Jonathan Hughes, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Jonathan Hughes

Mr Hughes graduated from the University of Bristol Medical School in 2000. His higher surgical training included placements at recognised centres of excellence, including The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear, Imperial College and University College.

During his ENT training, Jonathan was awarded the Royal College of Surgeons of England Research Fellowship to undertake research into oncolytic viral gene therapy, which culminated in the award of PhD in 2013.

Following ENT training and research, he completed two Royal College of Surgeons of England accredited fellowships in head and neck surgery, and laryngology (voice / airway / swallowing); forming the basis of his super-specialist interests.

In 2014, Jonathan visited Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to learn minimally-invasive and robotic head and neck surgery from world leaders in the field.

“Making decisions about the best individualised treatment for a patient with head and neck cancer can be challenging. I take pride in guiding patients through this process and making the best choice based on their personal needs.”

Prof Iain Hutchison, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Iain Hutchison

Professor Hutchison has been a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at for 27 years delivering high standards of cancer removal and reconstruction. He has now moved to UCLH as one of our consultant surgeons treating head and neck cancer. He continues to carry out complex non-cancer surgery and reconstructions at Barts Health. 

Professor Hutchison is director of the National Head and Neck Cancer Audit (HANA) and of the National Facial, Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre (NFORC). He is chief executive of the national research charity Saving Faces – The Facial Surgery Research Foundation and is past president of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS).

He was appointed to a professorship in 2007 and has written several publications which have led to changes in medical practice. Professor Hutchison is in great demand as a lecturer and expert media commentator.

Mr Nicholas Kalavrezos, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Nicholas Kalavrezos is a head and neck reconstructive surgeon and the lead clinician in the Head and Neck Centre at UCLH with a background in oral and maxillo-facial surgery. Mr Kalavrezos is also the lead head and neck sarcoma surgeon for the London Sarcoma Service. His clinical practice includes ablative and reconstructive surgery for the head and neck with a special interest in bone sarcomas and functional outcomes following reconstructive surgery. His clinical practice also includes surgical treatment of salivary gland tumours as well as thyroid surgery.

Mr Kalavrezos’ research interests include applications of “tissue engineering” in head and neck reconstruction. He is a founding member of the “Centre for Reconstructive Surgery” at University College London (UCL) where he also holds a senior lecturer post. He is also a member of the “Face Transplant Group” based at the Royal Free Hospital aiming to perform the first face transplant in the UK. He has joint research projects in the Nanotechnology Lab of UCL on “tissue engineered bio-scaffolding” aiming to replace defects of the head and neck (i.e. nose and ears) with tissue-engineered based micro-vascular flap reconstruction.

Nicholas lectures regularly at national and international meetings and holds the position of the secretary general on the Executive Board of the European Association for Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery.

Full consultant profile

Mr Colin Liew, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Colin Liew

Mr Liew was appointed consultant oral and maxillofacial head and neck surgeon in 2009. He has a specialist interest in ablative and reconstructive head and neck surgery, salivary gland and skin surgery.

Mr Liew completed training at the London Deanery. He was a fellow of head and neck surgical oncology at West of Scotland Regional Services from 2007-2008.

He is currently chair of the MDT, MDT lead of the head and neck oncology service and tracheostomy services MDT lead. Previously he has been education lead and assigned educational supervisor (2009-2015) and head and neck audit lead (2009-2014).

Full consultant profile

Prof Mark McGurk, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Prof Mark McGurk

Professor McGurk’s clinical practice has centred on head and neck cancer surgery and minimally invasive management of salivary gland disease as has his research themes.

He has championed minimally invasive surgery for benign parotid tumours and obstructive salivary gland disorders. This has revolutionised the treatment of salivary gland disease and it is now no longer necessary to routinely remove salivary glands for benign disease. This minimally invasive service is avaiable at UCL (salivary-gland.org.uk).

Professor McGurk has also led a European trial in sentinel node biopsy (SNB) which has led to a 75% reduction in the need for neck dissection for early mouth cancers (first in the UK). His work has changed the practice of head and neck cancer in the UK. The work on SNB has now been recognised by NICE who have advised the test should be avaiable in cancer centres around the UK. Professor McGurk has set up a national training program at UCLH to introduce SNB in UK.

Professor McGurk lectures widely at national and international conferences and runs annual master classes on salivary gland surgery in London, Paris and Erlangen for maxillofacial and ENT consultants.

Mr Richard Millard, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Richard Millard
Coming soon...

Mr Paul O Flynn, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Paul O'Flynn

Mr Paul O’Flynn is a consultant ENT head and neck surgeon at UCLH. After qualifying in 1982 he trained in London and Nottingham before returning to The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in 1993 as a consultant.

His main clinical interests are in head and neck surgery, particularly salivary gland, thyroid and laryngological surgery.

He is an honorary senior lecturer at UCL.

Full consultant profile

Mr Zaid Sadiq, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Zaid Sadiq

Mr Sadiq is qualified in both dentistry and medicine. He completed higher surgical training in oral and maxillofacial surgery in London and gained surgical oncology experience at University Hospital Network, Toronto. He completed a head and neck oncology fellowship in Edinburgh and is accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Glasgow. Mr Sadiq is an educational supervisor and is an honorary lecturer at University College London (UCL).

Full consultant profile

Mr Paul Stimpson, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Paul Stimpson

Mr Stimpson completed his head and neck surgical training in the North Thames region. In addition to high quality experience in London, he undertook a 12 month advanced surgical oncology fellowship in Melbourne, Australia prior to taking up his substantive consultant post at Barts Health in 2014. He is a core member of the Barts Health head and neck multidisciplinary team. He has a special interest in developing minimally invasive techniques for controlling head and neck cancer including transoral robotic surgery (TORS).

In addition to his clinical roles, Paul remains active in research, audit and service improvement projects. He is also a member of the teaching faculty for a number of courses across the UK.

“Across our region we have a great team of specialists who are dedicated to improving the lives of head and neck cancer patients. At UCLH we are in a unique position to provide state of the art surgical care and we strive for excellence in everything we do.”

Mr Francis Vaz, Consultant ENT Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Francis Vaz

Mr Vaz qualified from the University of London through The United Medical and Dental Schools of Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals in 1994 and has visited institutions around the world to broaden his experience and to bring an international flavour to his practice.

Mr Vaz has published widely on all aspects of ENT surgery and has contributed chapters to major ENT and general medical textbooks. He has received prestigious awards from The Royal College of Surgeons (Lionel College Fellowship) and also The British Association of Head and Neck Surgeons (BAHNO Travelling Fellowship).

“The treatment for head and neck cancer is increasingly individualised for every patient. It is wonderful to work within a team that offers the patient a high level of expertise, to tailor the treatments to the patient, as not all treatments are suitable for every patient.”

Full consultant profile

Mr Simon Whitley, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Head and Neck Surgeon

Mr Simon Whitley

Simon Whitley was appointed as a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at UCLH in 2015. He has been a consultant at Bart's Health and Princess Alexandra Hospital Harlow since 2006 where he continues to work. He specialises in the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer and his specialist interests include surgery for oral cancer, micro vascular reconstruction, salivary gland cancer, head and neck skin cancer, electro chemotherapy and the management of precancerous conditions.

He is the Head and Neck Pathway Director for London Cancer and previous appointments include the Chair & Lead Clinician for the head and neck multidisciplinary team for North East London, Chair of the north east London cancer network tumour advisory board for head and neck, and Lead Clinician for head and neck services at Princess Alexandra Hospital.