Cancerization of cutaneous flap reconstruction for oral squamous cell carcinoma: report of three cases studied with the mtDNA D-loop sequence analysis

Histopathology. 2011 Feb;58(3):361-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03754.x. Epub 2011 Jan 24.


Aims: Tissue defects, resulting from surgical resection of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), are reconstructed routinely with skin grafts. OSCC arising from the grafted skin has been described; however, it is still unclear whether primary and second tumours have a common clonal origin. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clonal relationship between the primary OSCC and secondary neoplastic changes appearing in the skin graft in three patients, by screening the mitochondrial DNA D-loop region (mtDNA).

Methods and results: In all three cases, the neoplastic lesions arising in the skin graft showed a clonal relationship with the previous OSCC and, on the basis of the results obtained by mtDNA analysis, could be considered to be a recurrence of the primary OSCC rather than a second primary OSCC.

Conclusions: Starting from a field of genetically altered cells in the oral mucosa, the spread of the clonal cell population to the cutaneous flap might be stimulated by cytokines produced by the grafted skin. More studies are needed to evaluate the molecular relationship between primary and second OSCC to identify patients at higher risk of developing a second tumour in the skin graft.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / pathology
  • Mouth / surgery
  • Mouth Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Surgical Flaps / pathology*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial