Staging and grading of oral squamous cell carcinoma: An update

Oral Oncol. 2020 Aug;107:104799. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2020.104799. Epub 2020 May 20.


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a common malignancy of the head and neck region. OSCC has a relatively low survival rate and the incidence of the disease is increasing in some geographic areas. Staging and grading of OSCC are established prerequisites for management, as they influence risk stratification and are the first step toward personalized treatment. The current AJCC/UICC TNM staging (8th edition, 2017) of OSCC has included significant modifications through the incorporation of depth of invasion in the T stage and extracapsular spread/extranodal extension in the N stage. Further modifications for AJCC 8 have been suggested. On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) classification (4th edition, 2017) still endorses a simple, differentiation-based histopathologic grading system of OSCC (despite its low prognostic value) and ignores factors such as tumor growth pattern and dissociation, stromal reactions (desmoplasia, local immune response), and tumor-stroma ratio. The various controversies and possible developments of the current staging and grading criteria of OSCC are briefly discussed in this update together with possible applications of artificial intelligence in the context of screening and risk stratification.

Keywords: Grading; Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC); Prognosis; Staging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Neoplasms
  • Neoplasm Grading / methods*
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Prognosis