Measuring Depth of Invasion in Early Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oral Tongue: Positive Deep Margin, Extratumoral Perineural Invasion, and Other Challenges.

Berdugo J, Thompson LDR, Purgina B, Sturgis CD, Tuluc M, Seethala R, Chiosea SI.
Head Neck Pathol. 2018 Apr 26. [Epub ahead of print]
The 8th edition of American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC 8th) staging manual incorporated depth of invasion (DOI) into pT stage of oral cavity cancer. The aim of this study was to characterize several histological findings that may complicate measurement of DOI in early conventional squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of the oral tongue: (1) lack of or minimal residual carcinoma following biopsy; (2) positive deep margin; (3) extratumoral perineural invasion (PNI); and (4) lymphatic or vascular invasion. Conventional SCC of the oral tongue (n = 407) with the largest dimension of ≤ 4 cm and with a negative elective cervical lymph node dissection (pN0) were reviewed. A clear plastic ruler was used to measure DOI by dropping a “plumb line” to the deepest point of the invasive tumor from the level of the basement membrane of the normal mucosa closest to the invasive tumor. Examples of identifying reference point on the mucosal surface of oral tongue from which to measure the DOI are illustrated. In the experience of one contributing institution, the residual carcinoma was absent in 14.2% of glossectomies (34/239), while in 4.8% of cases (10/205) there was only minimal residual carcinoma. In 11.5% (21/183) of pT2 cases the deep margin was positive and thus DOI and pT may be underestimated. Of all cases with PNI, extratumoral PNI was identified in 23.1% (31/134) of cases, but represented the deepest point of invasion in only two cases. In one case, lymphatic invasion represented the deepest point of invasion and could have led to upstaging from pT1 to pT2. In conclusion, DOI measurement for SCC of the oral tongue may require re-examination of the diagnostic biopsy in up to 20% of cases due to the absence or only minimal residual carcinoma in glossectomy specimens. In 11.5% of apparently pT2 cases, DOI may be underestimated due to the positive deep margin. Rarely, extratumoral PNI or lymphatic invasion may be the deepest point of invasion. Overall, two issues (absent or minimal residual disease and positive deep margin) may confound DOI measurement in early SCCs of oral tongue.
PubMed ID: 29700721
Article Size: 3 MB