Background: The incidence of cervical metastases after surgery for Stages I/II carcinoma of the tongue is 30-40%. Postoperative cervical metastases are an adverse prognostic factor for patients with this malignancy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinicopathologic factors associated with late cervical metastases in patients with carcinoma of the tongue.
Methods: The clinicopathologic features of 44 patients with previously untreated Stage I/II carcinoma of the tongue were reviewed. All patients were treated with partial glossectomy only.
Results: Cervical metastases developed in 21 of 44 patients within 5 years. Factors significantly associated with the development of cervical metastases were invasive growth, differentiation, nuclear polymorphism in the deep portion, tumor border, nest formation, infiltrative growth ratio, depth, and thickness. No statistical correlations between cervical metastases and age, gender, tumor location, clinical stage, Brinkman index, alcohol index, mitosis, connective tissue, lymphocytic infiltration, or perineural invasion were found. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only tumor thickness > 4 mm had a predictive value for cervical metastasis (risk ratio 9.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-57.7).
Conclusions: The current study data indicate that patients with Stage I/II carcinoma of the tongue > 4 mm in thickness are at increased risk for subsequent cervical metastasis. Thus, conservative supraomohyoid neck dissection is indicated in patients with Stage I/II carcinoma of the tongue > 4 mm in thickness.