Acinic cell carcinoma (ACC) is a rare type of cancer that most commonly develops in areas of the body where saliva is produced (salivary glands). The largest of these saliva-producing sites, and also the most common location where ACCs develop, is the parotid gland, which can be found on either side of the face just a little in front of and below the ears. Less commonly, ACCs grow inside the mouth. Very rarely, some types of ACCs can also develop in areas such as the pancreas and lungs. Cancers form when a mutation in DNA causes certain cells to grow out of control, sometimes forming a lump or a tumor. Some of these cancerous cells can break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
ACCs most commonly occur in adults between the ages of 40 and 60, though they can appear in all age groups. Factors that may increase the risk of developing ACCs include smoking, exposure to radiation, exposure to viral infections, and workplace exposure to rubber or asbestos. The most common symptoms of ACCs include weakness of the muscles of the face or numbness of the face. There may also be swelling or the presence of a lump near the neck, mouth, or cheek areas, which may or may not be painful. Depending on the size of the cancer, one may experience difficulty swallowing as well. Diagnoses are made usually with a combination of a physical exam, imaging studies, and other laboratory studies.
Treatment for ACCs depend on many factors such as how large the tumor is, and if it has spread to other areas of the body. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ACC, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also available for more resources and information.