Quality of life (QoL) has been recognized as an important endpoint in addition to disease-related and global survival. It is particularly important for patients with salivary gland neoplastic disease. For patients who are undergoing benign salivary gland tumor surgery, cosmetic and functional outcomes are extremely important, as these patients' psychological well-being and ability to function in society can be severely impacted. The following issues related to surgical treatment are discussed: incision, loss of local tissue sensation, development of Frey's syndrome, facial nerve function, and cosmesis. Improvements in the placement of the incision combined with additional minimally invasive procedures have improved QoL. The ultimate goal of benign parotid neoplastic surgery is complete tumor excision while avoiding cosmetic and functional damage, which includes preservation of the function of the facial nerve and its branches; this is the key to maintaining preoperative levels of QoL. There are many measures available to improve cosmesis that have minimal morbidity and that, when used, can provide significant improvements in patient outcomes. The treatment of malignant salivary gland neoplasms is primarily directed at treating the malignancy. When surgical treatment affects important neighboring structures, such as the lingual or hypoglossal nerves, as in submandibular/sublingual cancer, there is a tremendous effect on QoL if postoperative dysfunction of these structures results. Often, this treatment involves using ancillary surgical procedures, such as neck dissection, or nonsurgical treatment, such as radiation therapy. The effect of such multi-modality treatment on QoL is significant. The treatment of underlying salivary disease is often overshadowed by these adjunctive treatments.
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