Objective: The goal of this study is to review our series of head and neck paragangliomas to identify factors that may help in predicting malignancy.
Study design: Case series with chart review.
Setting: Academic medical center.
Subjects and methods: Subjects with head and neck paragangliomas at our institution from 1976 to current were reviewed. In addition to statistical comparisons of epidemiologic factors, pathologic and radiographic characteristics were reviewed.
Results: Of the 84 subjects, there were seven malignant paragangliomas (8%). Age was found to be significantly different between the benign and malignant subgroups, with an average age of 54 ± 16 and 40 ± 12 years, respectively (P = 0.02). Pain was a presenting complaint in five patients with benign disease (6%), and five of the seven malignant patients (71%) presented with pain, showing a significant association between pain and disease type (P < 0.0001). The odds ratio for a patient with pain having a malignant tumor was 36 (95% CI: 5.5-234). Enlarging neck mass was noted in all cases of malignant disease, but only in 31 percent of cases of benign disease (P < 0.0001). In a secondary analysis of carotid body tumors alone, enlarging neck mass was not found to be significant between benign and malignant disease (P = 0.14). However, pain continued to be significantly different, with 67 percent of malignant lesions demonstrating pain, compared with only 11 percent of benign lesions (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: This study suggests that pain, a rapidly enlarging neck mass, and younger age are predictive factors of underlying malignancy, which should prompt one to consider an aggressive diagnostic and management approach.
Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.