Objective: To review reports of adenoid cystic carcinomas arising in the head and neck area outside of the major salivary glands, in order to enhance the care of patients with these unusual neoplasms.
Methods: An international team of head and neck surgeons, pathologists, oncologists and radiation oncologists was assembled to explore the published experience and their own working experience of the diagnosis and treatment of adenoid cystic carcinomas arising in the vicinity of the sinonasal tract, nasopharynx, lacrimal glands and external auditory canal.
Results: The behaviour of adenoid cystic carcinoma arising in head and neck sites exclusive of the major salivary glands parallels that of tumours with a similar histology arising in the major salivary glands - these are relentless, progressive tumours, associated with high rates of mortality. Of 774 patients reviewed, at least 41 (5.3 per cent) developed documented regional node metastases.
Conclusion: The relatively low overall incidence of nodal metastases in adenoid cystic carcinomas arising in the head and neck region outside of the major salivary glands suggests that routine elective regional lymph node dissection might not be indicated in most patients with these tumours.
Keywords: Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma; Ear Canal; Elective Surgical Procedures; Lacrimal Apparatus; Lymph Nodes; Lymphatic Metastasis; Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms; Neck Dissection; Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms.