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Cervical lymph node metastasis in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the major salivary glands

Abstract Objective:

To verify the prevalence of cervical lymph node metastasis in adenoid cystic carcinoma of major salivary glands, and to establish recommendations for elective neck treatment.


A search was conducted of the US National Library of Medicine database. Appropriate articles were selected from the abstracts, and the original publications were obtained to extract data.


Among 483 cases of major salivary gland adenoid cystic carcinoma, a total of 90 (18.6 per cent) had cervical metastasis. The prevalence of positive nodes from adenoid cystic carcinoma was 14.5 per cent for parotid gland, 22.5 per cent for submandibular gland and 24.7 per cent for sublingual gland. Cervical lymph node metastasis occurred more frequently in patients with primary tumour stage T3–4 adenoid cystic carcinoma, and was usually located in levels II and III in the neck.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the major salivary glands is associated with a significant prevalence of cervical node metastasis, and elective neck treatment is indicated for T3 and T4 primary tumours, as well as tumours with other histological risk factors.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Prof Alfio Ferlito, Via Firenze 11, 35031 Selvazzano Dentro, Padova, Italy E-mail:
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