Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 10/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with AdCC may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with AdCC do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer.

The initial symptoms of AdCC depend on the location of the tumor. Early lesions of the salivary glands may appear as painless, usually slow-growing masses underneath the normal lining of the mouth or skin of the face. Because there are many salivary glands under the mucosal lining of the mouth, throat, and sinuses, lumps in these locations could be from this type of tumor. Other symptoms may include:

  • A lump on the palate, under the tongue, or in the bottom of the mouth
  • An abnormal area on the lining of the mouth
  • Numbness of the upper jaw, palate, face, or tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Dull pain
  • A bump or nodule in front of the ear or underneath the jaw
  • Paralysis of a facial nerve

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.