Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC)

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.



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