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Cutaneous head and neck squamous cell carcinoma metastatic to cervical lymph nodes (nonparotid): A better outcome with surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy



Objective: The aim of this study is to report on the experience of treating cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) metastatic to cervical (nonparotid) lymph nodes at the Head and Neck Unit, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia. Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Methods: Patients diagnosed with previously untreated metastatic cutaneous SCC to cervical lymph nodes (levels I-V) and treated with radiotherapy, surgery, or surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy were identified. Relapse and outcome was analyzed using Cox regression analysis. Results: Between 1980 and 2000, 74 patients were treated with curative intent. There were 59 males and 15 females, with a median age of 66 (range 37–93) years. Median duration of follow up was 48 (range 12–187) months. Fifty-two were treated with neck dissection and radiotherapy, 13 with neck dissection alone, and 9 with only radiotherapy. Most patients (85%) had an identifiable index lesion. Level I (38%) and II (36%) lymph nodes were the most often involved. In total, 25 (34%) patients developed recurrent disease, predominantly locoregional (22 of 25). Median time to recurrence was 5.2 (2-34.3) months. Increasing nodal size (≥3cm) (P = .01), metastatic spread to multiple nodes (P = .05), and the presence of extranodal spread (P = .01) all predicted for worse survival. Patients undergoing combined modality treatment had a lower relapse rate (15%) and a significantly better disease free survival (P = .001) compared with single modality treatment. Conclusion: Metastatic cutaneous SCC is uncommon but potentially lethal. Surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy remain the best practice and provide the best chance of achieving locoregional control.