Acinic cell carcinoma of the parotid gland

Case contributed by Dr Matt A. Morgan


New palpable, mildly painful mass at the right mandibular angle, noticed two weeks ago. No pertinent past medical history.

Patient Data

Age: 70 years
Gender: Male

There is a 2.8 x 3.5 cm solid and cystic (or necrotic) mass in the superficial right parotid gland. No lymphadenopathy.

Mixed cystic and solid mass. Well-circumscribed. 

The solid components demonstrate postcontrast enhancement and diffusion restriction.

No lymphadenopathy.


Right parotid cystic and solid mass before FNA and core biopsy.

Case Discussion

The right superficial parotid mass in this case first came to the patient's attention when he began having trouble sleeping on the right side. The mass was mildly tender to palpation, but there were no paresthesias or other evidence of facial nerve injury.

Imaging with CT demonstrated the cystic and solid lesion above without lymphadenopathy, and the subsequent MRI showed a similar mass, but more clearly demonstrated enhancement in the solid components of the mass. The mass was then referred for FNA and core biopsy under ultrasound guidance. The ultrasound appearance of the cystic and solid mass is relatively nonspecific.

Pre-biopsy, the differential for the mass is still relatively wide and "tissue is the issue."  Possible etiologies include:

During the FNA, the cytopathologist remarked that all the smears he was seeing "looked just like acinar cells." On the core biopsy, a diagnosis of acinic cell carcinoma was made, a rare diagnosis.

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Case information

rID: 32560
Published: 2nd Dec 2014
Last edited: 11th Dec 2019
System: Head & Neck
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included
Institution: Johns Hopkins Hospitals

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