Submandibular gland in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue: Can preservation during neck dissection be a pragmatic option?

J Cancer Res Ther. 2022 Apr-Jun;18(3):612-616. doi: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_1661_20.


Context: The submandibular glands (SMGs) excision during head-and-neck oncosurgeries lead to significant morbidity and degradation of quality of life (QOL). The preservation of SMGs during head-and-neck oncosurgeries, without affecting oncological safety, will improve QOL by preventing xerostomia in these patients.

Aims: The aim of this retrospective study was to assess the involvement of SMG by malignancy during neck dissection being done for the squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of tongue and to evaluate oncological safety of SMG preservation in SCC of the tongue. Settings and Design: The study design was a retrospective analytical study.

Subjects and methods: The study included 391 patients of SCC of tongue operated at Quaternary oncological center from January 2016 to February 2020. The treatment records of 371 patients were reviewed for demographical data, nodal metastasis, and histopathological involvement of SMG by SCC. The statistical analysis was done using SPSS 22.

Results: A total of 555 necks dissected were assessed, out of which 95 necks dissected were positive for nodal metastasis at level Ib. The SMG was involved by SCC in only two cases, both of which were poorly differentiated SCC. No intraglandular lymph nodes were detected in any of the SMG dissected.

Conclusions: The study showed that involvement of the SMG by SCC of the tongue is not very common, and it may be possible to preserve the SMG during neck dissection in selected cases in SCC of the tongue. The preservation will definitely improve QOL of the patients, as excision of the SMG is one of the prominent factors, resulting in xerostomia.

Keywords: Squamous cell carcinoma; submandibular gland; tongue; xerostomia.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neck Dissection / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Submandibular Gland / pathology
  • Submandibular Gland / surgery
  • Tongue / pathology
  • Xerostomia* / pathology