Adverse pathologic features in early oral squamous cell carcinoma and the role of postoperative radiotherapy—a review

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The use of postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) in early stage oral cancer with adverse pathologic features (APFs) is controversial. Prognostically relevant APFs reviewed were perineural invasion, lymphovascular invasion, depth of invasion, worst pattern of invasion, and margin status. The current literature remains divided with regard to the benefit of treatment escalation in these patients; although these patients are at high risk for recurrence, the morbidity of PORT needs to be balanced against the likely benefit in disease control. A wide heterogeneity in the literature exists, likely as a result of differences in treatment protocols. We performed a literature review of the role of PORT in early-stage oral cancer with APFs. Based on the current evidence, the decision to administer adjuvant therapy needs to be made on an individual basis; patients with >1 APF are likely to benefit from PORT, and the use of risk-scoring systems may help in decision making.

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