Beastie Boys Adam Yauch Has Died

Adam Yauch, known as Beastie Boys rapper MCA, has lost his battle with cancer.

The 46-year-old was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland (one of the salivary glands) in 2009. Here is how Adam Yauch announced the news to fans:

He underwent surgery and radiation therapy in August 2009. Last year, Adam Yauch credited a vegan diet and Tibetan medicine as playing important roles in becoming well again, although he admitted that he was not yet cancer-free.

Tell me something about salivary gland tumors…

1.  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).

2.  They  all produce saliva – the lubricating fluid found in the mouth.

3.  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.

4.  A tumor can form in any of these glands, but the most common location for cancerous tumors is in the parotid gland.

5.   The exact cause of salivary gland cancer is unknown. In some cases, cancer may develop due to DNA damage after years of tobacco and alcohol use or exposure to radiation.

6.   Heredity may play a role in the development of salivary gland cancer.

7.  Cancers of the head and neck, which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx (voice box), pharynx, salivary glands, and nose/nasal passages, account for approximately 3 percent of all malignancies in the United States. Salivary gland cancer accounts for  approximately 3% to 5% of all head and neck cancers (0.5% of all cancers).

8.  Most patients with cancerous salivary gland tumors are in their 60’s and 70’s.

9.  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.

10.  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. According to the National Cancer Institute, half of the tumors found in the salivary glands are benign.

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

Enjoy some classic Beastie Boys:

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Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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