Drug Therapies

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Drug therapies are also known as systemic therapies. They use the bloodstream to allow drugs to travel to all areas of the body to reach the cancer cells.  Currently available chemotherapy treatments have limited efficacy in ACC.

Although there are research projects and clinical trials taking place into the effectiveness new drug therapies, few are testing these in salivary gland cancers, including Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma.

Individual Funding Request (IFR) forms are available for use by healthcare professionals where a treatment or service is not available on the NHS as part of routine treatment.


Anti-cancer drugs are administered intravenously or via tablets.  The drug kills both cancer cells and normal cells and that is why the side effects are unpleasant.  After treatment the normal cells recover and the cancer cells do not.

For patients with incurable disease current chemotherapy treatments have poor results.  Further research is required to improve outcomes specifically for patients with incurable disease.  A greater understanding of these cancers is needed.  

Targeted therapies (aka biological therapies)

These drugs affect how cancer cells grow and divide. They act in one of four ways:

  • Blocking the supply of blood to the cancer cells, starving them of oxygen.
  • Blocking signals that tell the cancer cell to divide and grow
  • Delivering toxic substances that damage the cancer cells
  • Stimulating the bodies own immune system

When the drug encourages the immune system to attack cancer cells, it is known as ‘immunotherapy’.



Here the bodies own immune system is used to fight cancer by helping it recognize and attack cancer cells.