Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck metastasizing to the parotid gland--a review of current recommendations

Head Neck. 2011 Dec;33(12):1789-95. doi: 10.1002/hed.21583. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck may metastasize in up to 5% of patients, with the parotid lymph nodes the most frequent site for spread. Metastases frequently show delayed presentation after the primary cancer had been treated. The optimum treatment should be surgery followed by adjuvant radiotherapy, with an appropriate parotidectomy, and preservation of the facial nerve if not involved by tumor and treatment to the neck. In a clinically N0 neck, levels I to III should be cleared for facial primaries, levels II to III for anterior scalp and external ear primaries, and levels II to V for posterior scalp primaries. Approximate 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) after treatment was 70% to 75%. Patients with immunosuppression, in particular transplant recipients, are at high risk of developing aggressive metastatic cutaneous SCC. Modifications of the staging systems have demonstrated the prognostic benefits of accurately staging parotid and/or neck nodal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Parotid Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Parotid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy