Objectives: Squamous cell carcinoma has a predilection for regional lymphatic metastasis. The occurrence of occult cervical metastases from squamous cell carcinoma of the hard palate and maxillary alveolar ridge has not been studied systematically. We have observed many patients who have returned after resection of a primary cancer in these sites with a delayed cervical metastasis. Some of these patients have died of regional or distant metastasis despite control of their primary cancer.
Methods: We have studied 26 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the maxillary alveolar ridge and hard palate to define incidence of cervical metastasis.
Results: Overall incidence of cervical metastasis was: clinical 2 of 26 (7.6%) and occult 7 of 26 (27%) for a total of 9 of 26 (34.6%). The 5-year disease-specific survival was 13 of 22 (59%). Surgery for regional failure was successful in 66% (6 of 9). Radiation was administered after surgery in eight of nine patients.
Conclusion: Cervical metastasis from cancer of the palate and alveolar ridge is significant. Regional surgery for recurrent disease usually requires radical or modified radical neck dissection. Selective elective neck dissection should be offered to patients with cancer of the hard palate and alveolar ridge. It affords the patient and the treatment team valuable histologic information, which may help to guide therapy and reduce the potential need for future hospitalization, chemoradiation, and more radical surgery.