Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2016

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.

People with AdCC may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with AdCC do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be another 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 any changes you experience, 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 in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.