Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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Histologic Margins and Survival Outcomes in Cutaneous Squamous Cell Head/Neck Cancer

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020

Although a histologic margin of 4 mm to 6 mm is often used for excision of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, there are limited data to confirm this recommendation. A.F. Bewley, MD, of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), and colleagues found that a histologic margin of at least 5 mm appeared to improve survival rates among patients with advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who undergo wide local excision. They reported their findings in the Journal of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

The researchers conducted a database review, which included 232 patients treated at UC Davis for advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck with or without adjuvant therapy. The research team retrospectively examined 92 of these patients (40%) through recorded histologic margin distances and survival outcomes after wide local excision.

The overall 5-year disease-specific survival rate was 68.8%. The recurrence-free survival rate was 51%. A pathologic margin distance of at least 5 mm was significantly associated with a greater disease-specific survival than a margin distance less than 5 mm (94.7 vs. 60.7; P = .034).

“It would be beneficial to try to determine an appropriate margin distance in [high-risk] patients in order to guide management,” the research team noted with regard to future work. “Further prospective studies are required to provide appropriate guidelines for managing advanced or high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.”

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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