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Am J Otolaryngol. 2012 Mar-Apr;33(2):226-31. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2011.07.003. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the airway: a 30-year review at one institution.

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Division of Head and Neck Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.



The purpose of the study was to evaluate the treatment results of adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of the airway at a single institution during a 30-year period.


All cases of ACC of the airway over a 30-year period at one tertiary care institution were reviewed retrospectively. The demographics, treatment modalities, pathologic characteristics, and outcomes were evaluated.


Eleven patients were treated for ACC of the airway with an age range of 25 to 72 years (median, 48 years). Six patients presented with ACC in the larynx, and 5 patients had ACC of the trachea. All patients underwent surgical excision and radiation; 9 of 11 patients had postoperative external beam radiation, 1 patient had preoperative external beam radiation, and the remaining patient had postoperative neutron beam therapy. Four patients with tracheal ACC and none with laryngeal ACC had microscopic or grossly positive margins after surgery (P = .048). Eighty percent of patients had perineural invasion on pathology. Two patients with tracheal ACC had local recurrence of disease, which occurred at 1 and 10 months postoperatively. One patient with laryngeal ACC died of distant metastatic disease at 16 months. Follow-up varied from 4 to 168 months (median, 31 months).


We report high disease-free survival rates for ACC of the airway in patients who underwent definitive surgical resection followed by postoperative radiation. There is a higher risk for local recurrence and positive surgical margins with distal tracheal location. Distant disease ultimately determines survival.

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