Predictors of survival in early oral cancer

Patrick Sheahan, Conor O'Keane, Jerome N Sheahan, Tadhg P O'Dwyer
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 2003, 129 (5): 571-6

OBJECTIVE: Despite the substantial rate of neck conversion reported among patients with early oral cancer, a policy of routine elective neck dissection has been criticized on the grounds that it confers little survival advantage while subjecting many to potentially avoidable morbidity. However, the identification of factors predictive of survival may allow for the identification of those patients who are more likely to benefit from elective neck treatment.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: The clinical and histologic material of 71 patients with stage I or II squamous carcinoma of the oral cavity were reviewed. Patients were followed up for a minimum of 3 years after their surgery, and the impact of these variables on 3-year survival was assessed.

RESULTS: Increased tumor thickness was significantly predictive of decreased survival (P = 0.030). Although having no prognostic value alone, when combined with thickness, both pattern of invasion and gender increased the significance of the latter in predicting outcome. Conclusion and significance Measuring tumor thickness and pattern of invasion in patients with early oral cancer may allow for the identification of those patients with more aggressive disease who are more likely to benefit from elective neck treatment.

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