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Head Neck. 2004 Aug;26(8):660-74.

The National Cancer Data Base report on squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue.

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Department of Radiation Oncology and Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 987521 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-7521, USA.



This study provides the largest contemporary overview of presentation, care, and outcome for base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).


We extracted 16,188 cases from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB). Chi-square analyses were performed on selected cross-tabulations. Observed and disease-specific survival were used to analyze outcome.


Three-quarters had advanced-stage (III-IV) disease. Radiation therapy alone (24.5%) and combined with surgery (26.9%) were the most common treatments. Five-year observed and disease-specific survival rates were 27.8% and 40.3%, respectively. Poorer survival was significantly associated with older age, low income, and advanced-stage disease. For early-stage disease, surgery with or without irradiation had higher survival than irradiation alone. For advanced-stage disease, surgery with irradiation had the highest survival.


Survival rates were low for base of tongue SCC, with most deaths occurring within the first 2 years. Income, stage, and age were significant prognostic factors. In this nonrandomized series, surgery with radiation therapy offered patients with advanced-stage disease the best survival.

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