Adenoid cystic carcinoma – Causes, diagnosis, and management options Health

Adenoid cystic carcinoma – Causes, diagnosis, and management options

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC) is a cancer that primarily develops in the head and neck. It has a propensity for early recurrence, even years after initial treatment, making it one of the most challenging cancers to cure. Those affected often face life-altering implications as they grapple with its physical and psychosocial side effects. This article will explore this disease’s physical and emotional implications and what can be done to manage it.

What exactly is adenoid cystic carcinoma?
Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare and slow-growing cancer that starts in the head and neck glands. This type of cancer usually begins in the salivary glands but can also start in other body parts, such as the lungs or breasts. ACC is most common in middle-aged adults, although it can occur at any age.
The cancer cells of ACC are highly aggressive and tend to spread quickly to nearby lymph nodes. In addition, people with ACC often experience long-term side effects from treatment, such as fatigue, hearing loss, and dry mouth.

How can ACC have a significant impact on a patient’s life?
ACC can have far-reaching implications, affecting the physical and psychological health of the patient.

  • On the physical level, ACC can cause pain, discomfort, fatigue, and mobility issues. It can also be accompanied by swelling or blockage of the salivary glands. This can lead to further difficulties, such as eating, talking, and breathing.
  • Psychologically, ACC can cause significant stress and fear for patients. Patients may feel anxious and uncertain about their future and need to develop coping strategies to deal with their emotions. ACC can also create significant financial stress, as the cost of treatments can quickly add up.

Causes of adenoid cystic carcinoma

The risk of developing ACC increases with age.

Family history
You may be at increased risk if anyone has a family history of ACC.

Exposure to radiation
Radiation exposure, such as radiation therapy for another cancer, can increase your risk of developing ACC.

Symptoms of adenoid cystic carcinoma
It is integral to be aware of the symptoms of Adenoid cystic carcinoma to seek immediate medical treatment. Some of the most common symptoms of ACC include:

  • Persistent coughing or throat pain
  • Swelling in the neck or face
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Changes in voice
  • Earache or hearing loss
  • Lump on the face or neck
  • Facial nerve paralysis
  • Bloody saliva or phlegm
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Tiredness or fatigue

Diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma
As with any cancer, early detection and diagnosis of ACC are vital for successful treatment. A doctor typically begins by taking a complete medical history and performing a physical exam. They may also prescribe imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to look for signs of ACC in the body.
Biopsy testing is the only way to diagnose ACC definitively. During this procedure, the doctor takes a small tumor sample and sends it to a lab for analysis. This can help the doctor identify the type of cancer cells present and whether they are cancerous.
If the biopsy results return positive, your doctor may order additional tests to determine how far cancer has spread. This can include blood tests, urine tests, and imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans.

Treatment options for adenoid cystic carcinoma
Adenoid cystic carcinoma can be challenging, but several options are available.

  • Surgery is usually the first choice for treating ACC, as it can be used to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue. Radiation therapy may also be recommended if the tumor is too large. In some cases, chemotherapy and targeted therapies may also be used to help slow the growth of the tumor.
  • The treatment approach that is best for each patient will depend on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the stage of cancer. Patients must discuss their treatment options with their healthcare team to decide how to proceed.

In addition to treatment options, support resources are available for people living with ACC. These include psychological support, financial assistance, and patient advocacy groups. Connecting with these resources can be a great way to gain information and support during treatment.