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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Mar;68(3):584-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2009.03.056. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

Survival and patterns of relapse in patients with oral tongue cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045-0508, USA.



To evaluate the survival and patterns of relapse for patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral tongue.


Between 1999 and 2007, 50 patients with SCC of the oral tongue were treated at the University of Colorado Denver. Of the 50 patients, 38 had newly diagnosed SCC of the oral tongue (13 with stage I-II and 25 with stage III-IV disease), and 12 presented with locally recurrent SCC. Of the 50 patients, 49 were treated with initial surgery and 1 with definitive chemoradiotherapy. Adjuvant radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy was administered to 42 patients after surgery. Of the 13 patients with newly diagnosed stage I-II disease, 7 did not receive adjuvant therapy. The actuarial locoregional control, freedom from distant relapse, and survival were determined using the Kaplan-Meier method, and comparisons were made using the log-rank test.


The median follow-up was 29 months (range 4 to 95) for living patients. The 2-year locoregional control and freedom from distant relapse rate was 58% and 83%, respectively. Locoregional control was particularly low among patients with stage I-II disease, for whom the 2-year locoregional control rate was only 35%. The median survival time and 2-year survival rate for all patients was 42 months and 65%, respectively. The 2-year survival rate for patients with stage I-II oral tongue cancer was 77% compared with 52% for patients with stage III-IV disease (P = .04).


Despite aggressive therapy, patients with SCC of the oral tongue have a low rate of local tumor control and survival, particularly among those with stage I-II disease. These patients should be considered for inclusion in clinical trials evaluating novel postoperative therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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