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Sarcoma of the head and neck is a rare condition that poses significant challenges in management and often requires radical multimodality treatment.
This study aimed to analyse current clinical presentation, evaluation, management dilemmas and oncological outcomes.
Computer records and case notes were analysed, and 39 patients were identified. Variables were compared using Pearson's chi-square test and the log-rank test, while survival outcomes were calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method.
The histopathological diagnosis was Kaposi sarcoma in 20.5 per cent of cases, chondrosarcoma in 15.3 per cent and osteosarcoma in 10.2 per cent. A range of other sarcomas were diagnosed in the remaining patients. The site of disease was most commonly sinonasal, followed by the oral cavity and larynx.
Wide local excision with clear resection margins is essential to achieve local control and long-term survival. There is a need for cross-specialty collaboration in order to accrue the evidence which will be necessary to improve long-term outcomes.
The prevalence of occult neck metastasis in patients undergoing salvage total laryngectomy remains unclear, and there is controversy regarding whether elective neck dissection should routinely be performed.
A retrospective case note review of 32 consecutive patients undergoing salvage total laryngectomy in a tertiary centre was performed, in order to correlate pre-operative radiological staging with histopathological staging.
The median patient age was 61 years (range, 43–84 years). With regard to lymph node metastasis, 28 patients were pre-operatively clinically staged (following primary radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy) as node-negative, 1 patient was staged as N1, two patients as N2c and one patient as N3. Fifty-two elective and seven therapeutic neck dissections were performed. Pathological analysis up-staged two patients from clinically node-negative (following primary radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy) to pathologically node-positive (post-surgery). No clinically node-positive patients were down-staged. More than half of the patients suffered a post-operative fistula.
Pre-operative neck staging had a negative predictive value of 96 per cent. Given the increased complications associated with neck dissection in the salvage setting, consideration should be given to conservative management of the neck in clinically node-negative patients (staged following primary radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy).
Direct skin involvement of nodal metastasis from mucosal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma has traditionally been considered a poor prognostic indicator.
This retrospective review identified eight patients (five with mucosal upper aerodigestive and three with occult primary squamous cell carcinoma) who presented between 2000 and 2007 with direct skin involvement of nodal metastasis.
Five patients were treated with extended radical and three with extended modified radical neck dissection. Closure was achieved directly (four cases), with local (two) or pedicled (two) flaps. Surgery was always followed by radiotherapy (pan-mucosal or to the primary site). The five-year recurrence-free and disease-specific survival rates were 100 per cent.
It is exceptionally rare to encounter direct skin involvement of metastatic lymph nodes from mucosal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma without evidence of involvement of other anatomical structures. Surgical intervention is possible and combined modality treatment with curative intent is essential, as most patients can have a favourable outcome.
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