Metastatic head and neck cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: Defining a low-risk patient

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a “low-risk” subset of patients with regional metastatic head and neck cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) suitable for treatment with surgery alone and omission of adjuvant radiotherapy.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of 168 patients with a single parotid gland or neck nodal metastasis ≤3 cm in size from cutaneous SCC treated with curative intent by surgery ± adjuvant radiotherapy.


Disease-specific survival for the 33 patients treated with surgery alone was 97% at 5 years. In the subset of 19 patients without extracapsular nodal spread (ECS), there was 1 regional recurrence which was successfully salvaged yielding a 5-year disease-specific survival of 100%.


In head and neck cutaneous SCC, the subset with a single node ≤3 cm in size without ECS are at low risk of regional failure and death from cutaneous cancer. These patients may be suitable for single-modality therapy with surgery alone.

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