Adenoid cystic carcinoma: clinical and molecular features

Head Neck Pathol. 2013 Mar;7(1):17-22. doi: 10.1007/s12105-013-0426-3. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


The clinical features and common molecular alterations of adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) are reviewed in this paper. ACC is an uncommon neoplasm that most frequently arises in salivary glands and related tissue in the head and neck region. ACC has distinct histologic features, with cribriform and tubular growth patterns of basaloid cells displaying a predominantly myoepithelial cellular phenotype. This neoplasm also has uncommon clinical features of rare regional lymph node metastasis and a prolonged but relentlessly progressive clinical course. Clinical outcome in ACC is correlated to histologic grade, which is correlated to the degree of aneuploidy and genetic alterations present in the tumor genomes. Recent studies have identified that the majority of ACC contain alterations of the MYB gene, usually resulting in a fusion gene product with the NFIB gene by a t(6;9) translocation event. The molecular consequences of this alteration are incompletely understood, as are secondary molecular alterations that contribute to the neoplastic phenotype of ACC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans