Dissemination patterns and chronology of distant metastasis affect survival of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

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Objectives: To define metastatic categories based on their prognostic significance. We hypothesized that oligometastasis in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is associated with better post-distant metastasis disease specific survival (post-DM DSS) compared to patients with polymetastasis. Furthermore, the impact on survival of synchronous versus metachronous distant metastasis (DM) occurrence was assessed. Materials and methods: Retrospective cohort study in which patients with DM were stratified into three groups: oligometastasis (maximum of 3 metastatic foci in ≤2 anatomic sites), explosive metastasis (≥4 metastatic foci at one anatomic site) and explosive-disseminating metastasis (spread to ≥3 anatomic sites or >3 metastatic foci in 2 anatomic sites). In addition, patients were divided into synchronous versus metachronous DM. Results: Between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2013, a total of 2687 patients with HNSCC were identified, of which 324 patients developed DM. In this group, 115 (35.5%) patients had oligometastasis, 64 (19.8%) patients had explosive metastasis and 145 (44.8%) patients had explosive-disseminating metastasis. Their median post-DM DSS were 4.7 months, 4.1 months and 1.7 months respectively (p <.001). Synchronous DM was associated with more favorable survival rates in univariable and multivariable analyses than metachronous DM with recurrence of the index tumor (6-month post-DM DSS probability of 0.51 vs 0.17, p <.001). Conclusion: Oligometastasis in HNSCC signifies a better prognosis than a polymetastatic pattern. Metachronous DM occurrence with recurrence of the primary index tumor is associated with an unfavorable prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105356
JournalOral Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Rotterdam Oncology Documentary (RONCDOC) for providing patient- and tumor-specific data used in this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


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