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Head Neck. 2011 Jul;33(7):949-53. doi: 10.1002/hed.21561. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Role of panendoscopy to identify synchronous second primary malignancies in patients with oral cavity and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



Tobacco use increases the risk for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the upper aerodigestive tract. The reported incidence of synchronous second primary tumors in head and neck cancer is approximately 10%. Therefore, patients with oral cancer have routinely undergone "panendoscopy" consisting of direct laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy, and esophagoscopy. Recent studies indicate increasing numbers of upper aerodigestive tumors occurring in nonsmoking populations who may have a lesser risk for second primary tumors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of performing "panendoscopy" to identify second primary tumors in these patient populations.


A retrospective study of 64 consecutive patients at a university head and neck surgery practice was performed. A cohort of patients with oral cavity or oropharyngeal SCC with no tobacco history who underwent diagnostic panendoscopy were compared with similarly staged patients with a current or past history of tobacco use. Operative reports were examined for synchronous primaries, and epidemiologic data were collected. Subgroup analysis of incidence of synchronous primaries with regard to smoking status, age, sex, T classification, N classification, and location of primary tumor was also carried out. Student's t test statistical analysis was used to ascertain significance.


No synchronous second primary malignancies were discovered in the nonsmoking patients. In all, 12.1% of smoking patients were diagnosed with synchronous primary cancers on panendoscopy, and this difference was significant (p = .0392).


Routine panendoscopy of the upper aerodigestive tract in patients who have never smoked is unlikely to result in identification of synchronous second primary tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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