Disease-Specific Survival with Spindle Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck

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(1) Determine factors influencing survival in patients diagnosed with spindle cell carcinoma (SpCC), a rare variant of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). (2) Compare survival of patients with SpCC to those with conventional SCC.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort study.


Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18 database (years 2004-2009).

Subjects and Methods

Among patients receiving treatment for a single primary in the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx, 118 subjects with SpCC and 18,298 subjects with SCC were identified with complete data for the variables of age, sex, grade, tumor size, stage group, and TNM stage. Disease-specific survival curves were compared. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine the effects of each factor on survival over all sites and within each of 3 sites.


Univariate analysis of the combination of the 3 anatomic subsites showed survival with SpCC was worse than with conventional SCC (P < .001). Three-year disease-specific survival with SpCC was 49.5%, and 5-year disease-specific survival was 40.2%. Compared with conventional SCC, survival was worse for SpCC of the oral cavity (P < .001) and oropharynx (P < .001) but no different for the larynx and hypopharynx site (P = .15). Multivariate analysis identified age (P = .02), tumor size (P = .006), and M stage (P < .001) as the only variables significantly affecting survival with SpCC. All variables significantly affected survival with conventional SCC.


Spindle cell carcinoma carries a worse prognosis than SCC. Larger tumor size, older age, and metastatic disease portend worse survival with SpCC of the head and neck.

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