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  • Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

    Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (AdCC) is a rare malignant neoplasm that typically occurs in the head and neck, particularly in the salivary glands.

    The disease has also been documented in the breast, lacrimal glands (tear ducts), lungs, brain, bartholin glands (the two glands located below and on either side of the opening of the vagina that secrete a mucus to lubricate the vagina), trachea, and paranasal sinuses.

    This tumor is the most common malignancy affecting the submandibular glands (salivary glands located beneath the floor of the mouth). It is a slow growing, well-differentiated tumor that lends itself to a five year survival rate of 70 – 89%.

    There is no known cause for AdCC, making it very difficult to take precautionary steps to avoid the disease. Like all cancers, though, good nutrition, low stress levels, and an overall healthy lifestyle are the best preventative medicines.

    Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Signs & Symptoms

    Because the tumor can occur in so many regions of the body, symptoms vary greatly. The most common effects of adenoid cystic carcinoma are lesions of the salivary glands that present themselves as painless, slow-growing masses in the face or mouth. Advancing tumors may also invade nerves, causing pain, sensory abnormalities, and/or paralysis. Vision anomalies are a frequent affect of AdCC in the lacrimal glands (AdCC is the most common primary malignancy of the lacrimal glands). In the trachea or larynx AdCC may cause voice changes, difficulty breathing, and/or hoarseness.

    Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Diagnosis

    Computed tomography (CT scan) is commonly used to identify Adenoid cystic carcinomas. Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) is also employed to detect AdCC. Biopsy or resection of the abnormal tissue is performed followed by a histological assessment (microscopic assessment of the biopsied or resected tissue).

    Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Treatment

    Surgical resection is the primary treatment for this cancer. It is a difficult surgery to perform because of the cancer’s typical close proximity to nerves in the head and neck. Radiotherapies are often administered after surgery to further reduce the symptoms of the disease. When a patient is not a candidate for surgery, radiotherapy is usually employed as the exclusive treatment and has been shown to be curative. Because of AdCC’s rarity, research is ongoing and limted, and results are often sporadic.

    Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Prognosis

    Studies indicate that as many as 89% of patients survive five years after diagnosis. The ten-year survival rate is 65% and the fifteen-year survival rate is 40%. These figures reflect the slow growing nature of adenoid cystic carcinoma. When the disease spreads affects neural regions of the head and neck, prognosis features worsen. It should be noted that more research is needed to accurately analyze the treatments and prognosis of this disease.