Oral metastases: report of 24 cases

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2003 Feb;41(1):3-6. doi: 10.1016/s0266-4356(02)00301-7.


Aim: To study patients with oral metastatic tumours for the distribution of sex and age, the oral site and histopathological type of the metastasis, the primary tumour site and length of follow-up.

Patients and methods: All patients who had an oral metastasis diagnosed during the period January 1970-January 2001 at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Oral Pathology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, were included in this retrospective case study.

Results: Of 1537 patients with newly diagnosed oral cancers, 24 had metastatic tumours. There was an equal sex distribution and age at the time of diagnosis ranged from 8 to 90 years (median 60). The metastatic tumours most commonly involved the bone (18/24), the mandible being the most common (15/18). The predominant histological type was adenocarcinoma. In most patients (n = 16) the primary tumour was already known before the oral metastatic lesion appeared. The most common primary tumours were breast, lung, kidney, and prostate, in that order. Prognosis was poor (median survival 6 months, range 1-60).

Conclusions: Oral metastases are rare and may present at any age in both sexes and predominantly involve bony structures, particularly the mandible. A third of oral metastases appeared to be the first indication of an occult malignant process elsewhere.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / secondary*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaw Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Neoplasms, Unknown Primary
  • Netherlands
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution