Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma


Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a rare cancer that develops from the salivary glands.  These can develop from the major salivary glands of the head and neck (the two parotid glands, which are located in front of the ears, the two submandibular glands, which are located just under the lower jaw, and the two sublingual glands, which are located under the tongue), the lacrimal glands (two glands that make tears located on the outside edges of the eyebrows), or the minor salivary glands (hundreds of tiny glands located throughout the lining of the nose, mouth, and throat).  They are well-known to travel along nerve fibers in the salivary glands, in which they can spread to the base of the skull or brain.  They are typically treated with surgery followed by post-operative radiation therapy.  Although they are slow-growing, they can return several years later even after optimal treatment, either in the location that they began or in distant sites, such as the lung or bone.