Prognostic Implications of Skin Invasion in Locally Advanced Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Jul;169(1):69-75. doi: 10.1177/01945998221116746. Epub 2023 Jan 28.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of histopathologic skin invasion on 2- and 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients treated with primary surgery for locally advanced oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC).

Study design: A retrospective case-control study was performed comparing previously untreated patients with pT4a OCSCC with and without skin invasion.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Methods: Propensity score-matched cohorts were derived by age, sex, surgical margins, pathologic N classification, adjuvant treatment, and primary tumor site. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to evaluate 2- and 5-year OS and DFS, which were compared between cohorts via the log rank (Mantel-Cox) test statistic.

Results: Overall 25 patients were identified to have pathologic skin invasion, and 50 were selected for the matched control group. OS was significantly lower for patients with skin invasion as compared with controls at 2 years (30.8% vs 53.3%, P = .018) and 5 years (16.6% vs 42.2%, P = .01). DFS was significantly lower for patients with skin invasion vs controls at 2 years (23.7% vs 47.7, P = .037) and 5 years (15.8% vs 41.4%, P = .024).

Conclusion: Histopathologic skin invasion in OCSCC is associated with dismal prognosis in patients who underwent primary surgical treatment. OS outcomes for patients with skin invasion are comparable to survival of patients with recurrent/metastatic disease and T4N2 disease.

Keywords: head and neck; oral cavity; outcomes; skin invasion; squamous cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck