Age and survival from squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue

Authors

  • Bruce J. Davidson MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Rd, NW, Washington, DC 20007
    • Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Rd, NW, Washington, DC 20007
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  • Wendy A. Root MPH,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Rd, NW, Washington, DC 20007
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  • Bruce J. Trock PhD

    1. Department of Oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC
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Abstract

Background

A worse outcome for young patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma has been previously suggested in the literature. This issue has been investigated with respect to squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue.

Methods

The Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program tumor registries were used. Cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue (ICD-9 codes 141.1–141.5) diagnosed from 1988–1993 in which this cancer was the one and only cancer were included (n = 749). Disease-specific survival was evaluated with respect to age, type of surgical treatment, and radiotherapy while stratifying for stage using Cox proportional hazards analysis. A secondary analysis included the additional variables, tumor size and nodal status. (These fields were recorded in SEER for only about half of the cases in the primary analysis.)

Results

Analysis revealed that increasing age predicted worse disease-specific survival. A 10-year increase in age was associated with an 18% increase in risk of death. Surgical therapy with excision of the primary tumor alone or excision plus neck dissection predicted improved survival, whereas the use of radiotherapy was associated with worse survival. (The latter may reflect bias associated with positive surgical margins or premorbid conditions.) In the secondary analysis, age, tumor size, and positive lymph node status were associated with significantly worse disease-specific survival, whereas surgical excision plus neck dissection was associated with improved survival.

Conclusion

The SEER database shows increased disease-specific mortality with increasing age in patients with cancer of the oral tongue. Surgical therapy is associated with improved survival, whereas the use of radiotherapy, increasing tumor size, and positive lymph node status are associated with worse outcome. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Head Neck 23: 273–279. 2001.

Ancillary