Clinical Study

Spindle cell carcinoma of the head and neck region: treatment and outcomes of 15 patients

18 Nov 2015
Muhammad Shahid Iqbal, Vinidh Paleri, Jolene Brown, Alastair Greystoke, Werner Dubrowsky, Charles Kelly, Josef Kovarik

Introduction: Spindle cell carcinoma of the head and neck is a rare entity and the evidence of optimal management is lacking. The objective of our study was to report the treatment and outcomes of 15 patients treated in a single institution over a seven year period.

Materials and Methods: A total of 15 patients (12 males and 3 females) with spindle cell carcinoma of the head and neck were treated between July 2007 to June 2014. In six patients the disease developed after previous radiotherapy. Of the 15 patients, five patients had their primary in the tongue, four in the paranasal sinuses, two in the hypopharynx, two in the vocal cords, and one each in the soft palate and the floor of mouth. Eleven patients were treated with radical intent (seven patients required surgery only and four were treated with combined modality). The remaining four patients were treated with palliative intent.

Results: Among 11 patients treated with radical intent eight are alive or died of non-oncological causes. The disease recurred locally in three patients and they died of the disease (two patients with locally advanced disease in the tongue and one patient with T1N0 tumour in the hypopharynx). Median overall survival (OS) was 18 months.

Conclusion: Surgery or surgery combined with radiotherapy has a real impact on the natural cause of spindle cell carcinoma of the head and neck region. Even locally advanced tumours can be controlled with aggressive treatment. The worst outcome is seen with the tongue as the primary site because of a high local recurrence rate.

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