Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare form of adenocarcinoma, which is a broad term describing any cancer that begins in glandular tissues.
In general, Adenoid cystic carcinoma is found mainly in the head and neck region. It can occasionally occur in other locations in the body, including the breasts or a woman’s uterus. Adenoid cystic carcinoma most commonly occurs in the salivary glands, which consist of clusters of cells that secrete saliva scattered throughout the upper aero digestive tract. The upper aero digestive tract includes the organs and tissues of the upper respiratory tract, such as the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords, and part of the esophagus and windpipe. Salivary glands are generally divided into 2 groups based on their size: minor salivary glands and major salivary glands
Following tests may be used to diagnose AdCC:
A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis. A pathologist then analyses the sample(s). A pathologist is a doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease. The pathology of the salivary gland may be complicated, even among experienced pathologists. This is why it is important that the tissue is examined by a head and neck pathologist who is experienced in diagnosing salivary disease.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) An MRI uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body. MRI can be used to measure the tumor’s size. A special dye called a contrast medium is given before the scan to create a clearer picture. This dye can be injected into a patient’s vein or given as a pill or liquid to swallow. An MRI is very useful for identifying perineural spread of AdCC. Perineural spread is growth of the tumor along nerve branches.
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) A CT scan takes pictures of the inside of the body using x-rays taken from different angles. A computer combines these pictures into a detailed, 3-dimensional image that shows any abnormalities or tumors. A CT scan can be used to measure the tumor’s size. Sometimes, a special dye called a contrast medium is given before the scan to provide better detail on the image. This dye can be injected into a patient’s vein or given as a pill or liquid to swallow.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan A PET scan is usually combined with a CT scan (see above), called a PET-CT scan. However, you may hear your doctor refer to this procedure just as a PET scan. A small amount of a radioactive sugar substance is injected into the patient’s body. This sugar substance is taken up by cells that use the most energy. Because cancer tends to use energy actively, it absorbs more of the radioactive substance. A scanner then detects this substance to produce images of the inside of the body.
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Journal of Orthopedic Oncology