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Cancer Imaging. 2014 Apr 28;14:15. doi: 10.1186/1470-7330-14-15.

Prognostic factors in advanced pharyngeal and oral cavity cancer; significance of multimodality imaging in terms of 7th edition of TNM.


As with most cancers the prognosis in pharyngeal and oral cavity cancer largely depends on tumour stage. Physical examination, including endoscopy should be combined with technical radiologic imaging to record the precise extent of tumour. The TNM staging system of the head and neck region is, in fact, an anatomic staging system that describes the anatomic extent of the primary tumour as well as the involvement of regional lymph nodes and distant metastases. Modifications in the TNM staging system should consider not only the expert opinions and published reports in the literature but the technical advances in technology for improved assessment of tumour extent and the shifting paradigms in therapeutic strategies. "T" stage of the tumour is defined by its size, the depth of the invasion and the involvement of vital structures. In the 7th edition of TNM classification, for stage T4 tumors (larger than 4 cm), subcategories a and b were introduced to indicate the involvement of vital structures and their suitability for surgical resection (except for nasopharynx cancer). Nodal metastasis is the most important predictor of outcome for squamous cell cancer of the head and neck.

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