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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2004 May;261(5):270-5. Epub 2003 Sep 18.

The prognostic impact of metastatic pattern of lymph nodes in patients with oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.


In patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity and the oropharynx the presence or absence of nodal metastases still is the most important predictive factor. The discriminative significance of extracapsular spread and the influence of features of the primary tumor-such as size and depth of invasion-on metastatic pattern, treatment failure and survival were evaluated. Five-year postoperative follow-ups of 115 consecutively treated patients were studied retrospectively concerning the incidence of distant metastases, local and regional recurrences and the 5-year survival rate. Maximum depth of invasion of the primary tumor and lymph node metastases were evaluated on the basis of histological patterns, and patients were grouped according to their histological diagnosis. The T4 category has a plain discriminative influence on the incidence of distant metastases, recurrent tumors and survival rate in contrast to the other T sizes. The classification N0, intranodal growth and extranodal growth of lymph node metastases resulted in a 5-year survival rate of 67, 59 and 31%. According to the classification, 84, 87 and 59% were without nodal recurrence after 5 years, and 79, 82 and 46% without distant metastases. Size and depth of invasion of the primary tumor are not connected significantly with the occurrence of extracapsular spread. The status of the lymph nodes in squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity and the oropharynx metastases and in particular the capsular rupture has the most significant prognostic influence. The histological feature of extracapsular spread could distinguish reproducibly high risk patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity and the oropharynx.

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