Molecular biology of adenoid cystic carcinoma

Head Neck. 2012 Nov;34(11):1665-77. doi: 10.1002/hed.21849. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Background: Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is an unusual salivary gland malignancy that remains poorly understood. Standard treatment, including surgery with postoperative radiation therapy, has attained reasonable local control rates, but the propensity for distant metastases has limited any improvement in survival over time. Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving ACC is quite rudimentary, due to the infrequent nature of its occurrence.

Methods: An extensive literature review was performed on salivary gland ACCs and basic science research findings.

Results: This review highlights many findings that are emerging about the carcinogenesis of ACC including cytogenetics, tumor suppressor genes, oncogenes, epigenetic alterations, mitochondrial alterations, and biomarker studies.

Conclusion: Although there have been many discoveries, much still remains unknown about this rare malignancy. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2011.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / therapy
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / mortality
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / therapy