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September 1997

Submucosal Tumor Extension in Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery, Kwong Wah Hospital (Dr Ho) and The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital (Drs Lam, Wei, and Yuen), and the Department of Pathology, Ruttonjee Hospital (Dr Ng), Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(9):959-965. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900090073010

Objectives:  To study the incidence and extent of submucosal tumor extension in hypopharyngeal cancer and to evaluate the impact on the tumor recurrence and overall survival rates.

Method:  Fifty-seven resected specimens of hypopharyngeal cancer were studied in detail from January 1986 to December 1989 by use of the whole-organ, step—serial sectioning technique.

Results:  Three types of submucosal tumor extension could be identified. Type I extension was characterized by a tumor with a smooth round contour that extended submucosally. The mucosa was thereby elevated and was detectable on gross inspection at operation. In type II extension, tongues and islands of tumor infiltrated within the submucosa, and these were not noticeable on gross examination. Skip metastasis in the submucosa where the submucosal tumor was completely separated from the main tumor bulk was classified as type III extension. Thirty-three patients (58%) had submucosal tumor extension. The frequencies (and extents of submucosal tumor extension) in the superior, medial, lateral, and inferior directions were 16% (3-10 mm), 37% (2-37 mm), 26% (2-37 mm), and 28% (3-35 mm), respectively. Two thirds of the submucosal extension was type I (22 of 33), and only 1 patient had a true skip lesion submucosally (type III extension). Type II submucosal extension was found in one third of the patients (11 of 33). This occurred significantly more often in the patients who had received radiotherapy before surgery (82% 9/11]; P<.001; 95% confidence interval, 1.28-4.44). The presence of submucosal tumor extension had no effect on the tumor recurrence and overall survival rates.

Conclusions:  The incidence of submucosal tumor extensions in hypopharyngeal cancer is high (58%), but most (67%) of them can be detected grossly at operation. The presence of submucosal tumor extension does not adversely affect the survival and tumor recurrence rates.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:959-965