Beastie Boy, Adam Yauch, diagnosed with Salivary Gland Tumor

Beastie Boyz band member Adam (“MCA”) Yauch was recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his left salivary gland. Although he is expected to make a full recovery, the band has been forced to cancel their upcoming tour and delay the release of their newest album, Hot Sauce Committee, Part I.

“I just need to take a little time to get this in check, and then we’ll release the record and play some shows,” Yauch, 44, says in a video statement on his band’s official Web site. “It’s a pain in the neck (sorry had to say it) because I was really looking forward to playing these shows, but the doctors have made it clear that this is not the kind of thing that can be put aside to deal with later.”

There are three main pairs of salivary glands in the mouth: in front of the ears (parotid glands), under the jaw (submanibular glands) and under the tongue (subligual glands). These all produce saliva – the lubricating fluid found in the mouth. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the process of digesting food as well as antibodies and other substances that help prevent infections of the mouth and throat.

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A tumor can form in any of these glands, but the most common location for cancerous tumors is in the parotid gland. Not every lump in a salivary gland is cancer, as many benign tumors and other conditions (such as infections and salivary stones) can also cause lumps. The exact cause of salivary gland cancer is unknown. In some cases, cancer may develop due to DNA damage after years of tobacco use or exposure to radiation. Heredity also may play a role in the development of salivary gland cancer.

Symptoms of a salivary tumor include:

  • A lump (usually painless) in the area of the ear, cheek, jaw, lip, or inside the mouth.
  • Trouble swallowing or opening the mouth widely.
  • Numbness or weakness in the face.
  • Pain in the face that does not go away.

Treatment for Salivary Gland tumors is primarily surgical, with or without radiation.

rs.salivary

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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