Background: We aimed to investigate whether depth of invasion (DOI) should be an independent indication for postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) in small oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).
Methods: Retrospective analysis of DOI (<5, 5 to <10, ≥10 mm) and disease-specific survival (DSS) in a multi-institutional international cohort of 1409 patients with oral SCC ≤4 cm in size treated between 1990-2011.
Results: In patients without other adverse factors (nodal metastases; close [<5 mm] or involved margins), there was no association between DOI and DSS, with an excellent prognosis irrespective of depth. In the absence of PORT, the 5-year disease-specific mortality was 10% with DOI ≥10 mm, 8% with DOI 5-10 mm, and 6% with DOI <5 mm (P = .169), yielding an absolute risk difference of only 4%.
Conclusion: The deterioration in prognosis with increasing DOI largely reflects an association with other adverse features. In the absence of these, depth alone should not be an indication for PORT outside a clinical trial.
Keywords: depth of invasion; head and neck cancer; locoregional control; oral squamous cell carcinoma; radiotherapy; survival; tumor thickness.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.