Acinic cell carcinoma (salivary glands)

Acinic cell carcinomas of the salivary glands are rare malignant neoplasms that account for 1-3% of all salivary gland tumours

Pathology may superficially resemble normal serous (acinar) cells of the salivary glands. It is considered a low-grade, indolent malignancy, but with a tendency to recur after excision 4.

Location

The majority arise in the parotid gland (81-98% 3) and they may be bilateral and multicentric.

Imaging findings in acinic cell carcinoma are non-specific and there is an overlap with benign tumors such as Warthin tumor and pleomorphic adenoma 6.

CT
  • non-specific appearance
  • hypoattenuating regions of central necrosis
  • irregular enhancing solid component
MRI
  • non-specific appearance
  • T2 hyperintense cystic/necrotic component
  • solid component is also mildly T2 hyperintense
  • well-marginated
  • irregular solid component that enhances on the postcontrast sequence

Features that might suggest malignancy include:

  • lymphadenopathy
  • rapid increase in size
  • clinical history of pain

Surgical excision is considered the standard of care. Acinic cell carcinomas may recur in up to 35% of patients 5

Possible differential considerations include:

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Article information

rID: 9149
System: Head & Neck
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Acinic cell carcinoma of the salivary glands
  • Acinic cell carcinomas of salivary glands

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