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Am J Surg. 1987 Oct;154(4):447-50.

Treatment results and patterns of failure in 646 patients with carcinoma of the eyelids, pinna, and nose.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033.


From 1956 to 1978, 646 patients were treated with radiotherapy for carcinoma of the nose (350 patients, 54 percent), eyelids (159 patients, 25 percent), pinna (93 patients, 14 percent), and skin adjacent to the lip (44 patients, 7 percent). The histologic distribution was 72 percent basal cell carcinoma, 18 percent squamous cell carcinoma, and 10 percent mixed basal and squamous cell features. Tumors less than 2 cm in diameter were found in 602 patients (93 percent), whereas 44 patients (7 percent) had larger tumors. Tumor involvement of cartilage and bone was seen in 23 patients at the time of diagnosis. The 5, 10, and 20 year control rates were 99 percent, 98 percent, and 98 percent, respectively, for 502 tumors less than 2 cm in diameter. This compared favorably with control rates of 92 percent at 5 years and 79 percent at 10 years for tumors from 2 to 5 cm in diameter and 60 percent at 5 years and 53 percent at 8 years for 12 patients with massive tumors (p less than 0.0001). The histologic characteristics of the lesion had a strong influence on tumor control (p less than 0.02). Of the patients with cartilage or bone invasion, tumor was controlled in 19 (83 percent). Of these 19 patients, 11 had no evidence of disease for 3 years or more. Of all 646 patients treated, failure was seen in 60 (9 percent). It correlated well with the size of the lesion, being 7 percent for tumors of less than 2 cm and 50 percent for tumors of greater than 5 cm. Of the 60 patients in whom treatment failed, 48 (80 percent) had prior definitive therapy. Radiotherapy was an efficient modality to control operative failures; however, it was not as efficient at control in patients in whom previous radiotherapy failed. Operation was the treatment of choice to salvage patients in whom radiotherapy failed. Of the patients in whom retreatment failed, 10 were known to have died from skin cancer, and an additional 6 patients were presumed to have died from the cancer. This study has demonstrated a good control rate and good cosmetic results for small tumors of the eyelids, pinna, and nose. In addition, a good control rate was obtained in patients with cartilage and bone involvement. Treatment of massive tumors should involve planned operative resection with adjuvant radiotherapy.

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