Adenoid cystic carcinoma of salivary glands. A study of 61 cases with clinicopathologic correlation

Cancer. 1986 Jan 15;57(2):312-9. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19860115)57:2<312::aid-cncr2820570220>;2-a.


Sixty-one cases of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck region, excluding the ear canal, lacrimal glands, larynx, esophagus, and trachea, were studied, and their different clinicopathologic aspects were analyzed. Adenoid cystic carcinoma occurred more commonly in the minor salivary glands; the palate was affected in 31% of the cases. The fifth decade of life was the age at which patients were most commonly affected, and there was a slight predominance of white women. In most patients a mass was the main complaint; in 63% the duration of symptoms was 1 year or less. Forty-one patients had Stages 3 or 4 disease when first seen, and 51.7% of the patients died of disease, with a mean survival period of 35.4 months. Three basic patterns of growth, solid, cribriform, and tubular, were identified in the histopathologic examination of the cases. Other pathologic aspects analyzed were cellular pleomorphism, mitotic activity, necrosis, vascular invasion, and perineural infiltration. The study revealed a positive correlation between location of the tumor, clinical staging, duration of symptoms, and histologic pattern of growth with the prognosis of the lesion. Tumors located in the minor salivary glands, those in which the duration of symptoms was less than 1 year, and those that showed advanced clinical staging and a predominantly solid pattern of growth had an extremely poor prognosis. Surgery is the treatment of choice of adenoid cystic carcinoma, and microscopically free surgical lines of resection must be obtained. Radiation therapy, although not curative, plays an important role in prolonging survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosis
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / mortality
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / surgery