BACKGROUND: This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to evaluate the effectiveness of palatine tonsillectomy in patients with cervical metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma of unknown primary (SCCUP) origin.
METHODS: A systematic review including studies that encompassed palatine tonsillectomy in the SSCUP diagnostic evaluation was conducted. A single arm meta-analysis was then made to obtain the overall identification rate of tonsillectomy.
RESULTS: Fourteen studies were included, comprising 673 patients who underwent 416 palatine tonsillectomies, 338 preformed during examination under anesthesia (EUA) and 78 managed with transoral robotic surgery (TORS). A total of 140 occult tonsillar malignancies were identified; of these, 124 (89%) were ipsilateral, 2 (1%) contralateral, and 14 (10%) synchronous bilateral. Meta-analysis of 11 studies showed an overall detection rate of tonsillectomy of 0.34 (99% confidence interval 0.23-0.46).
CONCLUSION: Palatine tonsillectomy is a valuable diagnostic tool in the management of patients with head and neck SCCUP. Bilaterality of tonsillectomy should be taken into consideration.