Evaluation and staging of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx: limitations despite technological breakthroughs

Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2013 Aug;46(4):599-613. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2013.04.011. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity (SCCOC) and squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx (SCCOP) represent two distinct disease entities. SCCOC continues to be related to tobacco risk factors, and the current anatomic staging system provides useful prognostic value. Most patients with SCCOP in Western countries now have HPV-associated tumors, and tumor HPV status is considered the most important prognostic factor. Smoking status is emerging as an important prognostic factor for HPV-driven SCCOP, independent of tumor HPV status. Sentinel lymph node biopsy and FDG-PET/CT imaging are diagnostic staging tools useful in select patients with SCCOC and SCCOP.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Evaluation; Human papillomavirus; PET; Prognosis; Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Smoking; Squamous cell carcinoma oral cavity; Squamous cell carcinoma oropharynx; Staging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Risk Factors
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18