Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC)

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC)

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Adenoid cystic carcinoma|cancerGO

What is Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC)?

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and slow-growing cancer that usually affects the salivary glands, but can also occur in other parts of the body. It is known for its tendency to recur and metastasize, making early detection and treatment crucial. Here’s an overview of the signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of adenoid cystic carcinoma.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of adenoid cystic carcinoma vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. Some common symptoms include:

  • A lump or swelling in the affected area, such as the mouth, throat, or neck
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Pain or numbness in the face or neck
  • Facial weakness
  • Facial droop
  • Enlarged lymph nodes


To diagnose adenoid cystic carcinoma, a doctor will likely perform a physical examination and review the patient’s medical history. They may also order imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan, to get a better look at the suspicious area and determine if it has spread to other parts of the body. Ultimately, a biopsy will need to be performed to confirm the diagnosis.


The treatment for adenoid cystic carcinoma depends on the size, location, and stage of the tumor, as well as the patient’s overall health. The main treatments for ACC include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes a combination of treatments is needed to achieve the best outcome.

Surgery: Surgery is the primary treatment for adenoid cystic carcinoma. The goal is to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure that all cancer cells are eliminated. In some cases, surgery may be followed by radiation therapy to help prevent cancer from returning.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery to help shrink the tumor or to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may not be used if someone has surgery but may be used in some cases to help slow the growth of the tumor and relieve symptoms if cancer has spread to other areas.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma is slow-growing cancer, and it may take years for cancer to spread. However, it has a tendency to recur and metastasize even after treatment. The prognosis for adenoid cystic carcinoma depends on the stage and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. In general, early detection and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome.


Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

Download our
mobile app

Share this post
You may also like
Palliative Care Patient Experience
April 11, 2023

Palliative care is a specialized medical approach that aims to improve the quality of life of patients who are experiencing cancer or a serious illness. Palliative care can be provided in conjunction with cancer treatment, and the focus is to manage symptoms, provide emotional support, and enhance the overall well-being…

Jenni Daniel BSN, RN


Retinoblastoma – The Rare Eye Cancer
January 23, 2023

What is Retinoblastoma? Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that develops in the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that converts light into signals the brain uses to see. It is most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of 5, but can also occur…

Julie Scott, DNP


Why a second opinion after a cancer diagnosis matters
November 6, 2022

Cancer care is an ever-evolving field where new treatments are continuously developed. So, it is always worth getting a second opinion when a person is diagnosed with cancer. Furthermore, research evidence indicates that most early-stage cancer patients are satisfied with the opinion of their first oncologist. So, what is a…

Vino Cherian


cancerGO gives you access to a community

Where are people to listen, answer questions, share information, and offer valuable and timely advice