Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck treated by surgery with or without postoperative radiation therapy: prognostic features of recurrence

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Sep 1;66(1):152-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2006.04.014.


Purpose: This study sought to review a single-institution experience with the management of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck.

Methods and materials: Between 1960 and 2004, 140 patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck were treated with definitive surgery. Ninety patients (64%) received postoperative radiation to a median dose of 64 Gy (range, 54-71 Gy). Distribution of T stage was: 26% T1, 28% T2, 20% T3, and 26% T4. Seventy-eight patients (56%) had microscopically positive margins. Median follow-up was 66 months (range, 7-267 months).

Results: The 5- and 10-year rate estimates of local control were 88% and 77%, respectively. A Cox proportional hazards model identified T4 disease (p = 0.0001), perineural invasion (p = 0.008), omission of postoperative radiation (p = 0.007), and major nerve involvement (p = 0.02) as independent predictors of local recurrence. Radiation dose lower than 60 Gy (p = 0.0004), T4 disease (p = 0.005), and major nerve involvement (p = 0.02) were predictors of local recurrence among those treated with surgery and postoperative radiation. The 10-year overall survival and distant metastasis-free survival were 64% and 66%, respectively.

Conclusion: Combined-modality therapy with surgery followed by radiation to doses in excess of 60 Gy should be considered the standard of care for adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / radiotherapy*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / surgery*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Retrospective Studies