Vocal fold immobility from a primary minor salivary gland small-cell carcinoma: Case report

February 1, 2009
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Abstract

Small-cell carcinoma of a minor salivary gland is a rare and to the best of our knowledge previously unreported cause of vocal fold immobility. We describe the case of a 68-year-old woman who presented with hoarseness, dysphagia, and weight loss. Examination revealed left vocal fold immobility. She had no other obvious abnormality of the upper airway, neck, or skin. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a 4-cm submucosal oropharyngeal mass with extension to the parapharyngeal space and involvement of the carotid sheath and the foramen ovale at the skull base; imaging also revealed cervical adenopathy. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy identified the mass as a small-cell carcinoma, a finding that was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Extensive tumor invasion and multiple comorbidities precluded an aggressive management strategy, and the patient was treated palliatively. She died of her disease shortly after her diagnosis. Vocal fold immobility of unknown etiology mandates imaging from the skull base to the upper mediastinum.

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