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Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2007 Aug;27(4):216-9.

A rare case of adenoid cystic carcinoma of the nasopharynx manifesting as Horner's syndrome: discussion and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Santa Maria delle Croci Hospital, Ravenna, Italy.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a malignant tumour involving the salivary glands, rarely developing in the nasopharynx. The biological behaviour of adenoid cystic carcinoma is characterized by slow growth rate, high tendency to local recurrence and metastatic spread. Its histological features are particularly important for prognostic prediction: solid pattern has the worst outcome. Initial presentation of nasopharyngeal adenoid cystic carcinoma with paresis of cranial nerves and Horner's syndrome is infrequent. The Authors present a case of a rare adenoid cystic carcinoma of the nasopharynx, at admission with Horner's syndrome, in a 66-year-old male. Magnetic resonance imaging showed an expansive submucosal lesion of the nasopharynx involving the para-pharyngeal space, tensor and levator veli palati muscles and the apex of petrous bone. Positron emission tomography excluded distant metastasis. Definitive histopathological examination revealed an adenoid cystic carcinoma with mixed cribriform and solid pattern. The patient was treated exclusively with radiotherapy (70 Gy) in 35 fractions with partial reduction of the neoplastic mass.

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