Compartmental tongue surgery: Long term oncologic results in the treatment of tongue cancer

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Compartmental tongue surgery (CTS) is a surgical technique that removes the compartments (anatomo-functional units) containing the primary tumor, eliminating the disease and potential muscular, vascular, glandular and lymphatic pathways of spread and recurrence. Compartment boundaries are defined as each hemi-tongue bounded by the lingual septum, the stylohyoid ligament and muscle, and the mylohyoid muscle. In this non-randomized retrospective study we evaluated the oncologic efficacy of CTS in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCCA) of the tongue treated from 1995 to 2008. We evaluated 193 patients with primary, previously untreated cT2-4a, cN0, cN+, M0 SCCA with no contraindication to anesthesia and able to give informed consent. Fifty patients treated between October 1995 and July 1999 received standard surgery (resection margin >1 cm); 143 patients treated between July 1999 and January 2008 received CTS. Study endpoints were: 5-year local disease-free, locoregional disease-free and overall survival. After 5 years, local disease control was achieved in 88.4% of CTS patients (16.8% improvement on standard surgery); locoregional disease control in 83.5% (24.4% improvement) and overall survival was 70.7% (27.3% improvement). The markedly improved outcomes in CTS patients, compared to those treated by standard surgery, suggest CTS as an important new approach in the surgical management of tongue cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-179
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Compartmental surgery
  • Oncological results
  • Tongue cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oral Surgery
  • Cancer Research


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