Why Veterans May Have A Higher Risk of Salivary Gland Cancer

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Top Salivary Gland Surgeon Babak Larian, MD, FACS Discusses Possible Link Between Agent Orange Exposure and Salivary Gland Cancer

Babak Larian MD
Although studies have not directly linked agent orange exposure to salivary gland cancer, research has shown that the chemical has the potential to injure DNA cells.

If passed into Congress, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Support Act of 2013 will provide research on the effects of chemicals that have come in contact with members of the armed forces. As veterans seek to learn more about the effects of agent orange, Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parotid Surgery in Beverly Hills today discussed agent orange’s properties and how exposure to the chemical may increase the risk of salivary gland cancer.

“Although studies have not directly linked agent orange exposure to salivary gland cancer, research has shown that the chemical has the potential to injure DNA cells,” Dr. Larian explained. “The disrupted DNA cells may lead to abnormal growths. Tumors can form in any part of the salivary gland, but they occur 80% of the time in the parotid gland.”

What is a Parotid Tumor?

The most common symptom of a parotid tumor is a painless mass on the side of the face, just in front of or below the ear. Pleomorphic adenoma is a common type of benign parotid tumor.

“Although they may not spread to other parts of the body, if benign parotid tumors are left untreated, they will grow and push on surrounding tissues or wrap around them, making surgery more difficult and complex,” Dr. Larian said. “The tumor may also press on the facial nerve. Any abnormal growth requires immediate medical attention.”

Medical Treatment for a Parotid Tumor

It’s critical that a parotid expert examines any mass in the parotid gland. A fine-needle biopsy helps determine whether or not the growth is cancerous. Parotid cancer tends to grow in the gland itself, destroy the surrounding tissue and nerves and also spread to the lymph nodes and even other parts of the body. Early diagnosis of the cancer is important because minimally invasive parotidectomy that offers less complications and much better outcomes than standard surgery may be a viable option.

“Exposure to radiation is the most well-known cause of salivary gland cancer. If a deadly chemical, such as Agent Orange, was exposed to a veteran’s head and neck, it may have a similar effect as radiation on the salivary glands,” Dr. Larian said.

About Dr. Babak Larian

World-renowned parotid gland surgeon, Babak Larian, MD, FACS, is a graduate of the highly regarded U.C. Irvine School of Medicine and has completed a six-year residency program in Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at UCLA. As the Director of the Center for Advanced Parotid Surgery in Los Angeles, Dr. Larian and his team of experts are responsible for the performance of cutting-edge minimally invasive salivary gland surgeries. Dr. Larian aims to provide his patients with the best possible care and surgical outcomes 100% of the time.

For more information about Dr. Larian and the Center for Advanced Parotid Surgery, please contact his office today by calling (310) 997-2409, or visit the expert parotid surgeon on the web.

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