Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the commonest (90%) malignancy of the upper aerodigestive tract (others are lymphoma, adenocarcinoma arising from minor salivary glands and sarcoma). It presents typically as a painful ulcerative lesion or mass and has a propensity to metastasize to cervical lymph nodes as tumour volume increases.

The tumour, node, metastases (TNM) staging of oral cavity and oropharyngeal tumours is by size of primary tumour:

• T4 tumour >4 cm and with deep invasion to involve antrum, pterygoid muscles, root of tongue or skin of neck and extent of cervical nodal involvement:

• N0: no clinically positive node;

• N2: positive node >3 cm but <6 cm, or multiple-positive nodes, or bilateral/contralateral nodes;

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