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Distant metastasis (DM) in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is uncommon, but strongly deteriorates prognosis. Controversy exists regarding age as a predictor for the presence and development of DM. The aim of this study was to investigate age and other predictors for DM in HNSCC patients. From 1413 patients diagnosed with a primary HNSCC between 1999 and 2010 in a tertiary referral centre, patient, disease and pathological characteristics were extracted from patient files. Uni- and multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed to identify risk factors for DM as primary outcome. DM occurred in 131 (9.3%) patients, of which 27 (1.9%) were diagnosed simultaneously with the primary tumour, 27 (1.9%) were diagnosed synchronous, and 77 (5.4%) were diagnosed metachronous. The most common site of DM was lung (51.1%), followed by bone (19.1%) and liver (11.5%). Multivariable analysis identified male gender (HR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.23-3.10) hypopharyngeal tumours (HR = 3.28, 95% CI 1.75-6.14), advanced T-stage (HR = 1.61, 95% CI 1.09-2.38), poor differentiation grade (HR = 2.49, 95% CI 1.07-5.78), regional lymph node metastasis (HR = 5.35, 95% CI 3.25-8.79) and extranodal extension of regional lymph nodes metastasis (HR = 3.06, 95% CI 1.39-6.72) as independent prognostic factors for the presence or development of DM. No relation with age was found. Age is not related to the presence or development of DM. This study emphasizes the importance of screening for DM, especially in males, patients with hypopharyngeal tumours, advanced T-stage, histopathological poor differentiation grade, regional lymph node metastasis and extranodal extension.


Martine F van der Kamp, Friso O W Muntinghe, René S Iepsma, Boudewijn E C Plaat, Bernard F A M van der Laan, Ayat Algassab, Roel J H M Steenbakkers, Max J H Witjes, Boukje A C van Dijk, Geertruida H de Bock, Gyorgy B Halmos. Predictors for distant metastasis in head and neck cancer, with emphasis on age. European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 2021 Jan;278(1):181-190

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PMID: 32542417

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