Incidence and patterns of regional metastasis in early oral squamous cell cancers: Feasibility of submandibular gland preservation




We aimed to study the incidence of metastasis to the submandibular gland (SMG) and to establish the oncologic basis of SMG preservation in early-stage cancer of the oral cavity (OSCC).


This was a retrospective study of 261 patients with OSCC treated primarily with surgery at a tertiary medical center. One hundred thirty-two early-stage (T1-2, N0) OSCCs were further analyzed.


The mean age was 59 years with male-to-female sex ratio of 1.4:1. Two hundred sixty-one neck dissections were performed with SMG removal in 253 patients. One patient with an advanced floor of mouth cancer had obvious infiltration of the SMG. Only 2.5% (3 of 116) patients with early-stage OSCC had level I metastasis; none had SMG metastases.


SMG preservation in early cancers (T1-2, N0) of the oral cavity should be feasible unless there is evidence of direct invasion of the gland or close proximity of the cancer to it. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2009