Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is a type of cancer that usually develops in areas of the body where saliva is produced. Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common cancer of the salivary glands. The largest saliva-producing gland and the most common location where this cancer develops is called the parotid gland. The parotid gland is found on either side of the face, just in front of the ears. Mucoepidermoid carcinoma can also develop in the submandibular glands, which are located under the jawbone, the sublingual glands, which are located under the tongue, or in the lungs. Cancers form when a mutation in DNA causes certain cells to grow out of control, sometimes forming a lump or a tumor. Some of these cancerous cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body where they will continue to grow. This process is known as metastasis.
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is most commonly found in adults between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can appear in all age groups. The most common symptoms of mucoepidermoid carcinoma include weakness of the muscles of the face, facial numbness, and the presence of a swelling or lump near the neck, mouth, or cheeks. Depending on the size of the tumor, individuals may experience difficulty swallowing and opening the mouth. Diagnosis may involve a physical exam, imaging studies, and other laboratory studies.
Treatment for mucoepidermoid carcinoma depends on many factors such as how large the cancer is and if it has spread to other areas of the body. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also available for more resources and information.