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Keywords:

  • margins;
  • shrinkage;
  • oral cavity;
  • carcinoma

Abstract

Background

The importance of tumor free margins in outcome of cancer surgery is well known. Often the pathological margins are reported to be significantly smaller than the in situ margins. This discrepancy is due to margin shrinkage the quantum of which has not been studied in patients with oral cancers.

Objectives

To quantify the shrinkage of mucosal margin following excision for carcinoma of the oral tongue and buccal mucosa.

Methods

Mucosal margins were measured prior to resection and half an hour after excision in 27 patients with carcinoma of the tongue and buccal mucosa. The mean margin shrinkage was assessed and the variables affecting the quantum of shrinkage analyzed.

Results

The mean shrinkage from the in situ to the post resection margin status was 22.7% (P < 0.0001). The mean shrinkage of the tongue margins was 23.5%, compared to 21.2% for buccal mucosa margins. The mean shrinkage in T1/T2 tumors (25.6%) was significantly more than in T3/T4 (9.2%, P < 0.011).

Conclusions

There is significant shrinkage of mucosal margins after surgery. Hence this should be considered and appropriate margins should be taken at initial resection to prevent the agony of post-operative positive surgical margins. J. Surg. Oncol. 2005;91:131–133. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.