Salivary gland adenoid cystic carcinoma: a review of chemotherapy and molecular therapies

Oral Oncol. 2006 Sep;42(8):759-69. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2006.01.001. Epub 2006 Jun 6.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) accounts for about 1% of all head and neck malignancies. It has a tendency for a prolonged clinical course, with local recurrences and distant metastases sometimes occurring many years after presentation. Standard treatment for salivary gland ACC is surgery and post-operative radiotherapy. The aim of this review was to examine the reported efficacy of various chemotherapy regimens and molecular therapies on recurrent/metastatic salivary gland ACC. One hundred and fourteen publications were reviewed on chemotherapy as well as possible molecular targets of therapy, including KIT, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), human epidermal growth receptor-2 (HER-2), oestrogen and progesterone receptors, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), Ki-67 and the p53, bcl-2 and SOX-4 genes. Reported response rates to combination chemotherapy are low and response duration generally short lived. The response to molecular therapies is low also. More research into novel molecular targets is needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / genetics
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Neoplasm Proteins