The Prognostic Significance of Facial Nerve Involvement in Carcinomas of the Parotid Gland

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Importance and Background:

Facial nerve (FN) palsy and perineural invasion (PNI) are adverse features in carcinomas of the parotid gland. FN sacrifice at the time of surgery is associated with significant morbidity. The role of adjuvant radiotherapy in patients with high-risk features, including FN involvement, remains unclear.


Analyze the disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) and the impact of tumor characteristics, including FN involvement, for patients treated with surgical resection for carcinoma of the parotid gland.


This is a retrospective chart review.


University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare, Utah.


A total of 129 patients who were treated with primary surgery for nonmetastatic primary malignancies of the parotid gland from 1988 to 2006.


Parotidectomy with or without adjuvant therapy.

Main Outcome(s) and Measures:

Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to obtain 5-year estimates of DFS and OS. Recurrence risk factors, particularly the impact of FN involvement, were analyzed.


Five-year DFS and OS rates were 79% and 78%, respectively. Thirty-two (28%) patients developed recurrent disease. Disease recurrence occurred in 64% of patients with both FN palsy and PNI, in 43% with FN palsy without PNI, in 27% with only PNI, and in 16% without either feature.

Conclusions and Relevance:

FN involvement, particularly FN palsy, is a predictor of increased risk of recurrence and death. Radiotherapy cannot substitute for FN sacrifice in high-risk patients.

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