Long Term Monitoring

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma can be closely watched and treated, but sometimes it never completely goes away.

Many patients may never experience what is called a ‘local recurrence‘ of the primary tumor site after being treated with surgery and radiation. However, the risk of a recurrence, especially distant metastasis is very real even years after the initial diagnosis. Patients should work with their doctor to create a monitoring plan that includes the imaging tests needed and frequency of annual appointments. The tumor location, stage/grade, treatment approach and possible cancer progression can all factor into this plan.

After a patient’s initial diagnosis, scans or imaging tools may be ordered by the patient’s physician every 3 months or so. And depending on the patient’s particular circumstances, scans may be spread out every 6-12 months after the first year. If a local recurrence or metastasis occurs, the frequency and type of scans will likely increase.

Normally, a combination of CT or MRI scans are used to check for and track any potential recurrences in the head and neck region. CT scans, x-rays or CT/Pet scans are typically used to scan the lungs and other areas of the body; the lungs being the most frequent site of metastasis. PET scans often do not pick up slow-growing ACC tumors, but may be ordered to detect larger or faster growing tumors

Because some scans emit radiation to the body, physicians may minimize radiation exposure to younger patients. In this case, x-rays, low-dose CT scans or Pet scans may be ordered for the body. MRIs do not emit radiation and is normally used for the head and neck area.

Additional information on each of these imaging systems as they relate to cancer patients may be found at RadiologyInfo.org.

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