, Volume 26, Issue 3-4, pp 645-662
Date: 03 Sep 2007

Metastasis of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue

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Abstract

Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue (SCCOT) is one of the most prevalent tumors of the head and neck region. Despite advances in treatment, the survival of patients with SCCOT has not significantly improved over the past several decades. Most frequently, treatment failure takes the form of local and regional recurrences, but as disease control in these areas improves, SCCOT treatment failures are occurring more often as distant metastasis. The presence of cervical lymph node metastasis is the most reliable adverse prognostic factor in patients with SCCOT, and extracapsular spread (ECS) of cervical lymph nodes metastasis is a particularly reliable predictor of regional and distant recurrence and death from disease. Decisions regarding the elective and therapeutic management of cervical lymph node metastases are made mainly on clinical grounds as we cannot always predict cervical lymph node metastasis from the size and extent of invasion of the primary tumors. Therefore, the treatment of these metastases in the management of SCCOT remains controversial. The promise of basing treatment decisions on biomarkers has yet to be fully realized because of our poor understanding of the mechanisms of regional and distant metastases of SCCOT. Here we summarize the current status of investigations of SCCOT metastases and the potential of these studies to have a positive impact on the clinical management of SCCOT in the future.