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Brain metastasis from nonnasopharyngeal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: A case series and review of literature

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Radiotherapy, Navoday Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Sarbani Ghosh-Laskar,
Department of Radiation Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Background: Brain metastasis from primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is infrequent and probably under-reported thereby leading to paucity of information. Methods: Archives of two institutes in India were studied from 2005 to 2013 and relevant information regarding patient demographics, treatment details, and follow-up was obtained for patients having brain metastasis (BM) from HNSCC. Data were analyzed using SPSS software version 20 (IBM Corporation, NY, USA). Results: Metastasis to the brain was detected in 17 patients with an HNSCC primary. The median age for diagnosis of index primary was 55 years (range (R) - 32–71 years) with 88% (15/17) being male. Oral cavity was the most common site of primary disease with 35% (6/17) followed by larynx (24%), oropharynx (18%), and hypopharynx (18%). The median stage at presentation was IVA (47%) and two (12%) were metastatic to the brain at presentation. Human papillomavirus analysis was not available for any of the patients. Neurological symptoms were complained of in 94% patients. The median BM-free-interval was 15 months (R - 1–67 months, SE ± 5.2). While 88% had multiple brain metastases, 82% also had extracranial metastasis and in 53% of patients, the index primary was not controlled. The median overall survival of all patients after the development of BM was 2 months (R - 0.5–6 months, SE ± 0.4). Conclusion: BM in HNSCC is mostly multiple, associated with extracranial metastasis and can occur in patients without locoregional relapse or residual disease and carries a dismal outcome.

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