May 4th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Beastie Boy's death: What is salivary gland cancer?

It's extremely rare for people to be diagnosed with salivary gland cancer. Most Americans who get it are older than 55.

Adam Yauch, better known as "MCA" of the Beastie Boys, died Friday at age 47 after having cancer for nearly three years.  Yauch was one of the few younger patients diagnosed with the disease.

Related: Beastie Boy rapper 'MCA' dies

Two adults in 100,000 are diagnosed with salivary gland cancer per year, according to the American Cancer Society.

"Parotid cancers are fairly unusual in general but it can appear in individuals of all ages," said Dr. Amy Chen, a head and neck cancer surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. "It’s just in general, parotid cancer is very rare."

Yauch said in July 2009 that he first noticed a lump in his throat “like you have swollen glands.”

Marquee: Remembering the Beastie Boys' greatest hits

Marquee: Celebs devastated by tragic news

He announced he would have surgery within a week, followed by nearly two months of localized radiation treatment. He said the cancer was also in a lymph node. The survival rate depends on whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. If it hasn't, the five-year estimated rate of survival (Stage I) is 91%. If it has spread far from the glands (Stage IV), the rate is 39%.

Watch video of Yauch talking about his diagnosis.

"I always advise individuals that if you have a lump in your neck or a mass that is growing in size and it hasn’t gone away after two weeks, that you should seek medical attention for it," Chen said. "If the doctor prescribes antibiotics for it and it isn’t getting better, then you need to find another doctor."

If surgeons can't completely remove the cancer from the gland it can spread to the lungs and other parts of the body, she said.

Because the cancer is rare, it has been difficult for researchers to figure out what causes it. There are a few risk factors, the cancer society says, one of which is having radiation treatment to the head and neck for other medical reasons. Workplace exposure may also increase risk.

"We don’t find any relation to smoking or alcohol use like some other head, neck, throat cancers," Chen said. "It’s really a little bit of an unknown to what the risk factors are for developing this disease."

Most salivary gland cancers form in one of the parotid glands, as Yauch’s did, just in front of the ears. It is a difficult surgery to remove the cancerous cells, because the facial nerve goes through the parotid, according to the cancer society website.

The site says both surgical methods and radiation treatments have improved in recent years.  Unfortunately, targeted drugs have not been very effective against salivary gland cancer.

Post by:
Filed under: Cancer • Celebrity Health

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. 우리카지노



    November 25, 2020 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FdbvZisse

    name brand viagra online viagra otc united states can you buy genuine viagra online

    November 26, 2020 at 05:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. FmsgEncox

    onde comprar viagra pramil viagra dauermedikation viagra 100 mg zu viel

    November 26, 2020 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. KbrgMile

    how much is female viagra pill sildenafil singapore sildenafil 30 mg

    November 26, 2020 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 우리카지노



    November 27, 2020 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FnrdEncox

    buy viagra online usa viagra express delivery viagra super force

    November 27, 2020 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FnrhEncox

    health care products,viagra toronto viagra gold viagra melbourne victoria

    November 27, 2020 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JgscCrulk

    writing a descriptive essay about a person strategies for essay writing finance assignment help online

    November 28, 2020 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 바카라사이트



    November 29, 2020 at 04:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. FtghEncox

    corporate finance assignment help inverse trig functions integration homework summer essay writing

    November 29, 2020 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. FqfEncox

    business term paper science research proposal custom essay 995

    November 30, 2020 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. FgsZisse

    format of writing research paper research paper on child abuse writing a prospectus for a research paper

    December 1, 2020 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Leave a Reply to Grumpyfin


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.