The adverse prognostic effect of tumor budding on the evolution of cutaneous head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

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Abstract

Background

Tumor budding is a readily detectable histopathologic feature that has been recognized as an adverse prognostic factor in several human cancers.

Objective

We sought to assess the correlation of tumor budding with the clinicopathologic features and the prognostic value of tumor budding in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC).

Methods

Forty-nine primary nonmetastatic and 49 primary metastatic cSCCs to regional lymph nodes were retrospectively studied. Statistical analyses were carried out to assess the relationship between tumor budding, clinicopathologic parameters, and patient survival.

Results

Tumor budding was observed in 45 cases of 98 (46%). High-intensity budding (≥5 tumor buds) was observed in 20 tumors. Presence of tumor buds was a significant risk factor for nodal metastasis with crude and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) of 8.92 (95% CI, 4.39-18.1) and 6.93 (95% CI, 3.30-14.5), respectively, and for reduced overall survival time (crude and adjusted HRs of 2.03 [95% CI, 1.26-3.28] and 1.72 [95% CI, 1.05-2.83], respectively).

Limitations

This was a retrospective study limited to cSCCs of the head and neck. Examined tumors were >2 mm thick, and all were from a primary excision.

Conclusion

These results indicate an increased frequency of nodal metastasis and risk of death in patients with tumor buds.

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