Adenoid cystic carcinoma: A review of recent advances, molecular targets, and clinical trials

Head Neck. 2016 Apr;38(4):620-7. doi: 10.1002/hed.23925. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Background: Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a rare tumor of secretory glands. In this study, recent advances in molecular characterization and in therapeutics are reviewed.

Methods: A search of articles in PubMed and of abstracts from national meetings was performed regarding ACC.

Results: Recent genetic analyses found that recurrent chromosome 6:9 translocations in ACC generate an MYB:NFIB gene fusion resulting in overexpression of the MYB oncoprotein. Several other frequent mutations are recently published that may be relevant for drug development. Several trials of targeted drugs are reviewed. Some agents delay tumor progression, but tumor responses remain rare.

Conclusion: ACCs have a characteristic chromosomal translocation, but also frequently pick up additional mutations. Clinical research is limited by the rarity and slow growth of ACC. Several ongoing trials are testing agents that inhibit fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling or other signaling pathways. Novel treatments based on the recently sequenced tumor genome are under development.

Keywords: MYB gene; NFIB gene; adenoid cystic carcinoma; nuclear factor I/B; salivary gland; tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / therapy
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 6*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 9*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Genes, myb / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Mutation
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / therapy
  • Translocation, Genetic*