RIP Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys:

Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, died Friday after a long battle with salivary gland cancer, according to multiple reports.  He was 47 years old.

Yauch announced in 2009 that he had been diagnosed and was being treated for cancer of the parotid glands and lymph nodes.  There are three major pairs of salivary glands – sublingual, submandibular and parotid, the biggest of the glands.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, salivary gland cancer is very rare, only affecting two out of 100,000 adults each year in the U.S.  

“Most of the salivary gland tumors that people get are benign tumors, but rarely they can become malignant,” Dr. Eric Genden, the chief of head and neck surgery at Mount Sanai Hospital in New York City, told  “And [Yauch] is a particularly rare case because this guy was so young.”  

While the causes of this kind of cancer remain unknown, suspected risk factors include old age, receiving radiation therapy to the head or neck and being exposed to certain substances in the work place.

But none of these factors help to explain Yauch’s diagnosis.

“Usually, if you’ve been treated with radiation for another disease, that can be a factor,” said Genden.  “But he was never treated with radiation for anything else, to my knowledge.  The other potential cause is environmental exposure, but that’s typically for wood workers or people who work with nickel – which also doesn’t apply to him.”

(via Beastie Boys) and Fox