Acinic cell carcinoma


Acinic cell carcinoma is one slow growing type cancer of the salivary gland tumor. It doesn’t have any early symptoms. With the development of the cancer, frequent symptoms include enlarged salivary gland, nausea, vomiting and digestion problems. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

What are the symptoms of Acinic cell carcinoma?

Early acinic cell carcinoma does not have any symptoms. As the tumor grows larger, people may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A mass or lump in your face, neck, or mouth
  • Persistent pain
  • A newly noticed difference between the size and/or shape of the left and right sides of your face or neck
  • Numbness in part of your face
  • New weakness of the muscles on one side of your face
  • Swallowing problem

Other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Only a doctor can tell for sure. A person with any of these symptoms should tell the doctor so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Who is at highest risk?

Clinical data has suggested that the development of acinic cell carcinoma is related to several factors.

  • Radiation exposure: Radiation treatment for the head and neck cancer increases the risk of developing salivary gland cancer. Workplace exposure to certain radioactive substances may also increase the risk of salivary gland cancer.
  • Family history: Some epidemiological data suggest that members of some families seem to have a higher than usual risk of developing salivary gland cancers.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if symptoms of acinic cell carcinoma develop.


  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: In this procedure, the doctor places thehollow needle directly into the tumor mass and pulls cells and a few drops of fluid into a syringe. The cells are then viewed under a microscope by pathologists to determine if they are cancerous.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: CT scans are often used to diagnose acinic cell carcinoma. It can confirm the location of the cancer and show the organs near the parotid gland, as well as lymph nodes and distant organs where the cancer might have spread. These are helpful for determining the stage of the cancer and in determining whether surgery is a good treatment option.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses magnetic fields but it is a different type of image than what is produced by computed tomography (CT) and produces detailed images of the body. Like computed tomography (CT), a contrast agent may be injected into a patient’s vein to create a better picture.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: When doing this test, a small amount of a radioactive medium is injected into your body and absorbed by the organs or tissues. This radioactive substance gives off energy which in turn is used to produce the images. PET can provide more helpful information than either CT or MRI scans. It is useful to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and it is also useful for your doctor to locate where the cancer has spread.

Treatment options

Patients with acinic cell carcinoma have many treatment options. The selection depends on the stage of the tumor. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods. Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. Side effect may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.

  • Surgery: Surgery is usually the main form of treatment for resectable salivary gland cancers.
  • Radiation therapy: This is a cancer treatment to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing by using high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation.
  • Chemotherapy: The treatment is to use drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.

Diseases with similar symptoms

  • Parotitis
  • Parotid gland benign tumor
  • Mucoepidermoid carcinoma

Where to find medical care for Acinic cell carcinoma?

Ask our experts on acinic cell carcinoma

Prevention of Acinic cell carcinoma

Because we do not know the cause of salivary gland cancers, it is impossible to recommend ways to prevent them. The following measure may be helpful:

  • Avoidance and decrease of radiation exposure.

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

The prognosis of acinic cell carcinoma depends on the following:

  • Whether or not the tumor can be removed by surgery
  • The stage of the cancer: the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread outside the salivary gland
  • The patient’s general health

Possible complications

  • Spread to internal organs
  • Death



This article incorporates public domain material from Wikidoc and MedlinePlus. Please see licenses for further details.

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