What is Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma?
Symptoms of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma is an explicit symptomatic condition. Its symptoms may also be found in some other types of conditions, however, the signs in an integrated form are only caused by Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. These signs are;
- Persistent or worsening sinus or nasal congestion
- Changes in voice or difficulty speaking
- Pain in the face or neck
- Unusual bleeding from the nose or mouth
- Swelling or lumps in the face or neck
- Changes in vision or double vision
- Pain when swallowing
- Numbness or tingling in the face or jaw
- Ear pain or hearing loss
- Fatigue or weakness
As early mentioned that these symptoms may also be present in other conditions, and it is important to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Causes and Risk factors of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
The exact cause of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma is not clear, however, health experts are sure about some of the potential risk factors that may increase the chances of the condition.
When to See a Doctor?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:
- Persistent sinusitis or nasal congestion that does not respond to antibiotics or other treatments
- Pain or pressure in the face or sinuses, especially in the nose or cheek area
- A lump or mass in the nose, mouth, or neck
- Changes in the voice or difficulty speaking
- Recurrent nosebleeds or drainage from the nose
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
- Pain in the jaw or teeth
Complications of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma is a slow-growing cancer and can be treated easily, but if not treated, it can lead to serious complications like;
- Invasion of surrounding tissues: Adenoid cystic carcinoma can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bones, and lungs.
- Cranial nerve involvement: This type of cancer can affect the cranial nerves and cause symptoms such as facial numbness, drooling, and difficulty swallowing.
- Recurrence: Adenoid cystic carcinoma has a high rate of recurrence, even after surgical removal. This can lead to the need for additional treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy.
- Disfigurement: Depending on the location of the cancer, surgical removal may result in disfigurements, such as a change in the shape of the face or a loss of function in the jaw.
- Pain: Adenoid cystic carcinoma can cause pain in the affected area, especially as the tumour grows and begins to put pressure on surrounding tissues.
- Breathing difficulties: Tumors located in the sinuses or near the airways can cause breathing difficulties and lead to sleep apnea.
It is advised to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms associated with adenoid cystic carcinoma, as early treatment can improve the prognosis and reduce the risk of complications.
Diagnosis of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
It is pretty difficult to diagnose ACC by its symptoms, because of its slow growth and due the signs found in other medical conditions. However, if your healthcare suspects you have ACC, they can recommend you some diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of the condition.
Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a type of rare cancer that affects the glands of the head and neck. Diagnosis is usually made through the following steps:
- Medical History: The doctor will ask questions about the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and any risk factors.
- Physical Exam: The doctor will examine the head and neck area for any lumps, swelling, or abnormalities.
- Imaging Tests: The doctor may request a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan to get a detailed view of the affected area.
- Biopsy: A small sample of tissue is taken from the affected area and examined under a microscope. This will confirm the diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma.
- Staging: Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will determine the stage of cancer. This will help determine the best course of treatment.
- PET scan: Before having the PET scan you will be injected with a small amount of radioactive solutions. You will be asked to sit for 30-90 minutes so the solution can mover around your body. Many cancer cells will show up brighter on the scan. The scan takes around 30 minutes.
- Ultrasound: Soundwaves are used to create pictures of the inside of your body. You will be asked to lie down and a gel will be spread over the affected part of your body and then a small device (transducer) is moved over the area. The ultrasound takes about 15 minutes and is painless.
- Other Tests: The doctor may request additional tests such as blood tests, X-rays, or bone scans to determine if cancer has spread.
It is essential to accurately diagnose the condition and seek prompt treatment as adenoid cystic carcinoma can be aggressive and may spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Treatment of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
The treatment options for ACC vary depending on the stage and location of cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Here are some of the most common treatments for ACC:
- Surgery: The first line of treatment for ACC is often surgical removal of the cancerous tissue. Depending on the size and location of the tumour, this may involve a simple excision or a more complex procedure that involves removing lymph nodes and/or reconstructing the affected area.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumour before surgery or to treat any remaining cancer cells after surgery. This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumour or to treat any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that circulates throughout the body and attacks cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a newer type of treatment that uses drugs to target specific proteins or pathways that drive the growth of cancer cells. This type of therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy.
- Observation: In some cases, ACC may grow slowly and may not cause symptoms for a long time. In these cases, the doctor may choose to observe the patient and monitor cancer rather than treat it right away.
One must discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor and to make a decision that is best for your individual situation.