Adenoid cystic carcinoma: factors influencing survival

Author(s): Spiro RH, Hooves AG, Strong EW


We have reviewed our experience with 264 patients treated for adenoid cystic carcinoma of salivary origin. This study updates a previous report from our hospital and includes all patients treated during a 30 year period who were eligible for a minimum follow-up of 10 years. The tumor arose in minor salivary (mucous) glands in two thirds of the patients; half had received treatment elsewhere, and both sexes were equally represented. Actuarial survival curves and "cure" rates calculated by the direct method confirm that clinical staging provides a reliable prognostic guide. We are unable to demonstrate that the microscopic appearance of the tumor exerts a predictable effect on treatment results. Although some patients lived for many years after resection despite local recurrence and distant metastases, prolonged survival was unusual in patients with stage 3 lesions, particularly in those with sinus or submaxillary gland primaries. Based on the site of origin of the tumor and its clinical stage, it is now possible to select which patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma have the most ominous prognosis and perhaps plan a more appropriate operation. More importantly, these data may help focus on the subpopulation at greatest risk, which is vital to the design of any prospective study to assess the value of adjunctive irradiation and chemotherapy.

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