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Keywords:

  • oral tongue cancer;
  • tumor thickness;
  • outcome;
  • prognostic factors

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The objectives of this study were to determine the incidence of locoregional failure in patients with low-risk, early stage oral tongue squamous cell cancer (OTSCC) who undergo partial glossectomy and ipsilateral elective neck dissection without receiving postoperative radiation.

METHODS:

A combined database of patients with OTSCC who received treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Princess Margaret Cancer Center from 1985 to 2005 was established. In total, 164 patients with pathologic T1-T2N0 OTSCC who underwent partial glossectomy and ipsilateral elective neck dissection without postoperative radiation were identified. Patient-related, tumor-related, and treatment-related characteristics were recorded. Local recurrence-free survival, regional recurrence-free survival, and disease-specific survival were calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Predictors of outcome were analyzed by univariate and multivariate analysis.

RESULTS:

At a median follow-up of 66 months (range 1-171 months), the 5-year rates of local recurrence-free survival, regional recurrence-free survival, and disease-specific survival were 89%, 79.9%, and 85.6%, respectively. Regional recurrence was ipsilateral in 61% of patients and contralateral in 39% of patients. The regional recurrence rate was 5.7% for tumors <4 mm and 24% for tumors ≥4 mm. Multivariate analysis indicated that tumor thickness was the only independent predictor of neck failure (regional recurrence-free survival, 94% vs 72% [P = .02] for tumors <4 mm vs ≥4 mm, respectively). Patients who developed recurrence in the neck had a significantly poorer disease-specific survival compared with those who did not (33% vs 97%; P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Patients with low-risk, pathologic T1-T2N0 OTSCC had a greater than expected rate of neck failure, with contralateral recurrence accounting for close to 40% of recurrences. Failure occurred predominantly in patients who had primary tumors that were ≥4 mm thick. Cancer 2013. © 2013 American Cancer Society.