Background: We conducted a retrospective review of patients with unknown primary head and neck cancer who underwent a transoral laser microsurgery (TLM)-assisted search for an occult tumor.
Methods: Fifty-two patients at a single center with unknown primaries of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) were treated with a surgical algorithm.
Results: The overall rate of primary tumor identification was 75% (39 of 52 patients). When selecting those cases in which a TLM algorithm with lingual tonsillectomy was utilized, the detection rate was 86% (31 of 36). Tumors were most commonly found in the lingual (65.0%) and palatine tonsils (27.5%). When directed biopsies did not locate a tumor, a higher yield was obtained with the addition of a lingual tonsillectomy in 8 patients.
Conclusion: A surgical algorithm for the unknown primary that includes TLM-assisted techniques, including a lingual tonsillectomy, offers the greatest likelihood of successfully detecting the location of occult primary tumors.
Keywords: TLM; carbon dioxide laser; human papillomavirus; transoral; unknown primary.
Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.