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Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma A Succinct Guide For Patients And Caregivers

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma or ACC is a lesser-known carcinoma that develops at the glandular level. Here is a guide that aims at helping you understand this condition better.

ACC is a condition that usually affects a patient’s head or neck. In some less prevalent female cases, it may show up in the uterus as well. The glands that secrete saliva and keep the upper portion of the aerodigestive system moist are the usual target spots for tumor development in this condition. Several major and minor salivary glands are present in this part of the digestive system. The parotid gland located in front of both ears, the submandibular present below the jawbone, and the sublingual ones tucked under the tongue are all major salivary glands. Aside from these, there are the minor ones which include those in the palate, nasopharynx, base of the tongue, mucosal layer, larynx, and trachea. All these glands are susceptible to the formation of ACC tumors.


An ACC malignancy may not produce any symptoms at first and the symptoms of this disease vary based on the site of the tumor. Here are some typical effects of an ACC tumor:

  1. Lesions below the thin lining covering the inside of the mouth
  2. Slow-developing growths under the facial skin
  3. A mass inside the mouth, especially at the bottom of the mouth, beneath the tongue, or on the roof of the mouth.
  4. Loss of sensation in the facial region or inside the mouth.
  5. Painful or difficulty swallowing
  6. Changes in voice
  7. Facial Paralysis
  8. A lump close to either ear or below the jaw


While it is difficult to point out the exact trigger for an ACC tumor, studies suggest that genetic modifications that are not inherited but occur during one’s life play a significant role.

Treatment Options:

  1. Surgical Extraction – Removal of malignant masses is the most effective line of treatment. However, this procedure can be successful only if the growth is cleanly extractable. The size of the portion removed depends on the region in which the tumor is present and the extent to which cancer has spread.
  2. Radiation Therapy – High-intensity x-rays are used to terminate cancer cells. This kind of treatment process is typically used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells that were left behind post-surgery.
  3. Chemotherapy – Strong medications are administered orally or intravenously to kill cancer cells by inhibiting their survival and multiplication mechanisms. Chemotherapy is not typically used for ACC tumors as this type of cancer is typically less responsive to treatment.

Follow-Up Care:

Follow-up care is essential for patients who have received treatment of any kind for ACC. Here are a few things that should be kept in mind:

  1. Look Out For Signs Of Recurrence – It is vital to regularly visit your physician even post-treatment and get the recommended imaging and blood tests done to catch any new growths.
  2. Seek Help For Coping With Side Effects Of Treatment – Some of the treatment protocols used to manage ACC can have harsh after effects that may last for a long time. Consult with your physician to get tips on how to cope with these effects.
  3. Maintain Health Records – Maintaining a detailed record of your treatment process which includes lab results, treatment history, and medication list is a preparatory measure that helps all your physicians keep track of your case.
  4. Post-Surgery Rehabilitation – Some people require help to regain their levels of mobility and flexibility post-surgery. Support Groups To Help Deal With Depression – Many survivors experiencing depression and anxiety following treatment can find comfort in support groups.

For more information on various types of cancers and their treatments, please visit our website –


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