Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(2):528-533. doi:10.7150/ijms.50966 This issue Cite

Research Paper

Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas

Yujiao Li1,2, Chaosu Hu1,2 Corresponding address

1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, China.
2. Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Shanghai, China.

Citation:
Li Y, Hu C. Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(2):528-533. doi:10.7150/ijms.50966. https://www.medsci.org/v18p0528.htm
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Abstract

Background: To analyze the prevalence proportions and prognostic factors of synchronous distant metastases in patients with tonsil squamous cell carcinomas (TSCC).

Methods: TSCC patients were extracted from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database between 2010 and 2014. We examined the association between clinical manifestations and distant metastases using Chi-squared tests. Predictors of 5-year survival were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: A total of 6193 patients were analyzed and lung was the most common site of distant metastases. Poorly/undifferentiated differentiation was found to be significantly correlated with lung metastasis (p=0.033) and liver and bone metastases were associated with African American (p=0.000 and p=0.000, respectively). A higher T classification was associated with higher prevalence of lung, liver, bone and brain metastasis (p=0.000, p=0.000, p=0.000 and p=0.007, respectively). The same results were found in N classification in lung, liver, and bone metastasis (p=0.000, p=0.000, and p=0.000, respectively). Worse prognosis was associated with older age, Blacks, lower grade, higher T and N classification, no surgery therapy and more metastatic sites.

Conclusion: Lung was the most frequent lesion of synchronous distant metastases and liver and bone metastases were associated with African American. Higher T and N classification were independent prognostic parameters for higher prevalence of lung, bone, liver and brain metastasis. Worse prognosis was associated with older age, African Americans, lower grade, higher T and N classification, no surgery therapy and more metastatic sites.

Keywords: synchronous distant metastases, tonsil squamous cell carcinomas, metastatic pattern, prevalence, prognosis

Introduction

Tonsil squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) is one of the most common oropharyngeal neoplasm and the incidence rates of TSCC have significantly increased in recent decades [1-3]. Several studies have described the association between the clinicopathological characteristics, including age, tumor size, tumor grade, tumor stages at presentation, and lymph node or distant metastases and clinical outcomes of TSCC. Up-front surgery followed by adjuvant therapy, if appropriate, or radiotherapy alone has been the principal treatment modality for early-stage TSCC and postoperative radiotherapy has been used for close or positive resection margins, T3-4 tumors, and neck node metastases [4].

Metastases are the main cause of human cancer deaths, and its treatment continues to be a major challenge. The identification of factors associated with distant metastases is of paramount relevance for therapeutic planning. Our goals were to analyze the prevalence proportions and prognosis of synchronous distant metastases in patients with TSCC using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.

Materials and Methods

Cohort population

We obtained data from the current SEER database, which consists of 18 population-based cancer registries. This database collects and publishes cancer prevalence and survival data covering approximately 28% of the total population in the United States. SEER*Stat Version 8.3.4 (http://www. seer.cancer.gov/seerstat) from the National Cancer Institute was used to identify eligible patients in this study. Because the SEER database began collecting information on the presence or absence of metastases at the time of diagnosis in 2010, we included patients diagnosed with microscopically confirmed TSCC between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2014. We selected patients with only one primary malignancy in their lifetime. We excluded patients mainly because of lack of pathology type of tumor, unknown racial information, unstaged tumors or 'blanks' metastatic site. In total, 6193 TSCC patients were eligible for inclusion in the prevalence analyses.

Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistics were used to examine the baseline characteristics of the patients. The primary study outcomes were overall survival (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS). OS was defined as time to the date of death due to any cause or the date of last follow-up. CSS was defined as time from initial treatment to death due to cancer. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were compared using the log-rank test. Hazard analysis was conducted using the Cox proportional hazards model. SPSS software, version 22.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA) was used for additional data processing. A probability value (p value) of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant for all tests.

Results

Clinical Characteristics of all patients

Data for a total of 6193 patients, including 5083 males and 1110 females, were investigated. The median age was 59 months (range, 17-99 months). Among the cohort of the patients, 4.4%, 40.6% and 55.0% tumors were well differentiated (Grade I), moderately differentiated (Grade II) and poorly/undifferentiated differentiated (Grade III), respectively. About 63.8% of the patients were stage IV (Figure 1).

According to the 7th edition of UICC/AJCC Staging System, 1835 patients (29.6%) were T1, 2484 patients (40.1%) were T2, 1023 patients (16.5%) were T3, 566 patients (9.1%) were T4a, and 285 patients (4.6%) were T4b. With regard to N classifications, 1259 patients (20.3%) were N0, 1296 patients (20.9%) were N1, 719 patients (11.6%) were N2a, 2087 patients (33.7%) were N2b, 555 patients (9.0%) were N2c, and 277 patients (4.5%) were N3. Patients' characteristics are listed in Table 1.

 Figure 1 

Distribution of tumor stages.

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 Table 1 

Clinical manifestations of 6193 patients

Number of patients%
Age
Median59
Range17-99
Gender
Male508382.1
Female111017.9
Race
Caucasian544788.0
Asian2213.6
African American5258.5
T classification
T1183529.6
T2248440.1
T3102316.5
T4a5669.1
T4b2854.6
N classification
N0125920.3
N1129620.9
N2a71911.6
N2b208733.7
N2c5559.0
N32774.5
Grade
12724.4
2251240.6
3340955.0
Surgery therapy
Yes340154.9
No279245.1
Tumor location
Tonsillar fossa77012.4
Tonsillar pillar3806.1
Overlapping lesion of tonsil611.0
Tonsil, NOS498280.4
Metastasis patterns
No metastasis site609198.4
One metastasis site831.3
Multiple metastasis sites30.3

Abbreviations: NOS: not otherwise specified.

 Table 2 

Demographic characteristics of patients with and without metastases

FeaturesLung MetastasisP
value
Liver MetastasisP
value
Bone MetastasisP
value
Brain MetastasisP
value
NoYesNoYesNoYesNoYes
Gender0.0760.0210.0810.294
Male50344950731050572650794
Female1092181103710991111082
Age0.4620.1490.2480.426
≤593274393307632971633112
>5928522828691128592128764
Race0.1430.0000.0000.086
Caucasian53935454361154242354434
Asian2183221021922210
African American515105196513125232
Grade0.0330.1840.3600.783
12720272027202720
22476362508424981425102
333783133961333862334054
T classification0.0000.0000.0000.007
T118269183321829618350
T22470142480424701424813
T3100617102121019410230
T4a54818558855795633
T4b2769284128142850
N classification0.0000.0000.0000.527
N012563125811253612572
N112888129331292412951
N2a7163719071817190
N2b206918208342078920861
N2c529265496542135541
N32689274327342761
Tumor location0.9370.1300.0330.712
Tonsillar fossa7637769176737691
Tonsillar pillar3764378237913791
Overlapping lesion of tonsil601601592610
Tonsil, NOS49275549691349513149784

Abbreviations: NOS: not otherwise specified.

Metastasis pattern

At the time of diagnosis, there were 17 patients with liver metastasis, 67 patients with lung metastasis, 37 patients with bone metastasis and 6 patients with brain metastasis.

As shown in Table 2, tumor grade was found to be significantly correlated with lung metastasis and poorly/undifferentiated differentiation was an independent prognostic parameter for higher prevalence of lung metastasis (p=0.033). What's more, we observed that T classification was also an independent parameter for metastatic diseases. A higher T classification was associated with higher prevalence of lung, bone, liver and brain metastasis (p=0.000, p=0.000, p=0.000 and p=0.007, respectively). The same results were found in N classification in lung, bone, and liver metastasis (p=0.000, p=0.000, and p=0.000, respectively). In addition, liver and bone metastases were associated with African American (p=0.000 and p=0.000, respectively).

Survival

The overall mean follow-up of all patients in the cohort was 21.0 months (range, 0-59 months). In the univariate analysis, age, gender, race, grade, primary site, T category, N category, distant metastases and surgery therapy were significantly associated with OS and CSS (P < 0.05).

Gender, age, race, grade, primary site, T classification, N classification, history of surgery and distant metastases were selected in the multivariate model. Age, race, grade, primary site, T classification, N classification, surgery therapy and distant metastases were all independent prognostic factors in the multivariable analysis for CSS (Table 3). Elderly black patients with higher T or N classification, multiple sites of metastases and no surgical therapy to primary tumor were more likely to reduce life expectancy.

As shown in Figure 2, 5-year CSS are 93.6% and 84.5% for localized and regional TSCC patients, respectively, which are much higher than metastatic TSCC patients (62.6%). The same results were found in OS.

Discussion

In this study, 6193 patients with TSCC were evaluated and 86 (0.13%) patients had synchronous distant metastases at diagnosis. In the present series, the niches of distant metastasis were predominantly located in the lungs, bones, liver and brain, in accordance with the literature [5]. We observed some interesting relationships between the clinicopathological characteristics and distant metastases patterns. For instance, liver and bone metastases were associated with African American. Nabil et al. found that TSCC in white men is likely human papillomavirus (HPV) driven, and Frederic et al. found that HPV-negativity are factors associated with the development of distant metastases, which could partly explain the observed ethnic-based differences [6, 7]. However, absence of information about HPV and/or p16 status of the patients in the current analysis prevented us to adjust our analyses for these important factors. What's more, advanced T classifications increased the risk of distant metastases and advanced regional disease (N2 or N3 disease) are found in patients with M1 disease, which were consistent with many other studies [7-10].

A number of variables influencing the prognosis of TSCC have been described previously (Table 3). In the present study, eight clinicopathological factors were found to be associated with patient OS by univariate analysis, including age, race, grade, primary site, T classification, N classification, distant metastases and surgery therapies. Based on the present study, Caucasian was associated with a better prognosis than Asian and African American. In terms of age, several reports have shown that patients' age is one of the prognostic factors in oropharyngeal carcinoma including TSCC [11, 12]. The differential protective effect of marriage based on HPV infection, which correlated with favorable prognosis, was more frequently observed in younger Caucasian patients than in the elderly [13]; therefore, old aged African American could be secondary surrogates of poor tumor biology which is unrelated to HPV infection. Unfortunately, because the HPV and/or p16 status of patients in the present study was unknown, this hypothesis could not be tested. Regarding that many recent studies for altering therapy based on HPV status are in progress, the lack of details of HPV status in this study has significant limitations [14].

 Table 3 

Multivariable logistic regression for OS and CSS of TSCC in the SEER cohort

Prognostic factorOverall survivalCancer-specific survival
P valueHRLower CIHigher CIP valueHRLower CIHigher CI
Age0.0001.8431.6252.0900.0001.7381.4772.046
Gender0.3440.251
Male1 (reference)1 (reference)
Female1.0540.9041.2291.0940.8931.341
Race0.0000.000
Caucasian1 (reference)1 (reference)
Asian1.2310.8941.6941.2560.8471.860
African American1.6941.4322.0031.6631.3282.082
Grade0.0000.000
11 (reference)1 (reference)
20.7890.6101.0200.6490.4540.927
30.5750.4430.7460.4390.3060.629
T classification0.0000.000
T11 (reference)1 (reference)
T21.1720.9711.4151.1920.9141.555
T31.7531.4222.1611.8601.3972.476
T4a2.5912.0843.2203.0322.2574.072
T4b3.1812.4714.0943.5632.5574.964
N classification0.2850.000
N01 (reference)1 (reference)
N10.8430.6961.0211.2280.9261.628
N2a0.6840.5190.9010.8380.5621.248
N2b0.8280.6970.9841.1670.9031.508
N2c1.1210.9071.3861.6131.2082.154
N31.2290.9351.6152.0041.4212.826
Tumor location0.0000.003
Tonsillar fossa1 (reference)1 (reference)
Tonsillar pillar1.1450.8891.4741.1000.7841.544
Overlapping lesion of tonsil0.9640.5681.6360.8230.4141.636
Tonsil, NOS0.8190.6950.9650.7900.6350.982
Surgery therapy0.0001.8901.6362.1830.0002.2761.8592.788
Distant metastases0.0000.000
No1 (reference)1 (reference)
Single3.7902.8215.0934.9723.5866.893
Multiple8.1924.84413.85412.1456.79921.695

Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; HR, hazard ratio; P values were calculated using an adjusted Cox proportional-hazards model; NOS, not otherwise specified.

 Figure 2 

Kaplan-Meier analysis of overall survival and cancer-specific survival in localized, regional and metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas patients. A, overall survival in localized, regional and metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas patients (P < 0.05). B, cancer-specific survival in localized, regional and metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas patients (P < 0.05).

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Furthermore, early diagnosis and treatment are particularly important; especially the incidence of TSCC has increased in past 3 decades [2, 3, 15, 16]. We observed that 5-year CSS are 93.6% and 84.5% for localized and regional TSCC patients, respectively, which are much higher than metastatic TSCC patients(62.6%). we observed the same pattern of associations for OS (Figure 2).

This is the first population-based analysis assessing prevalence proportion and prognostic factors of distant metastases of TSCC patients. Some limitations of our study should be acknowledged. First of all, the SEER database only provides information about four sites of metastases at diagnosis: bone, brain, lung, and liver. We don't have information of metastasis to other sites, which may influence the prognostic assessment of the metastases group. Second, the lack of data on additional predictors of OS such as HPV and/or p16 status, performance status, comorbidities, chemotherapy and/or postoperative radiotherapy, positive surgical margins at final pathology prevented us to adjust our analyses for these important factors.

Conclusion

Lung was the most frequent lesion of synchronous distant metastases and liver and bone metastases were associated with African American. Higher T and N classification were independent prognostic parameters for higher prevalence of lung, bone, liver and brain metastasis. Worse prognosis was associated with older age, African Americans, lower grade, higher T and N classification, no surgery therapy and more metastatic sites.

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors.

Ethical Approval and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center Ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The experimental protocols were also approved by Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center Ethics committee. Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Funding

The study was funded by the National Key Technologies Research and Development Program on Prevention and Control of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (Grant No. 2018YFC1313204).

Author Contributions

Yujiao Li and Chaosu Hu have made substantial contributions to all of the following: (1) the conception and design of the study, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, (2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, (3) final approval of the version to be submitted.

Competing Interests

The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

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Author contact

Corresponding address Corresponding author: Pro. Chaosu Hu, Address: Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, 270 Dong An Road, Shanghai 200032, China. Tel.: +86 21 64175590 1400; Fax: +86 21 64174774; E-mail: hucsu62com.


Received 2020-7-22
Accepted 2020-11-19
Published 2021-1-1


Citation styles

APA
Li, Y., Hu, C. (2021). Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 18(2), 528-533. https://doi.org/10.7150/ijms.50966.

ACS
Li, Y.; Hu, C. Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas. Int. J. Med. Sci. 2021, 18 (2), 528-533. DOI: 10.7150/ijms.50966.

NLM
Li Y, Hu C. Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(2):528-533. doi:10.7150/ijms.50966. https://www.medsci.org/v18p0528.htm

CSE
Li Y, Hu C. 2021. Prevalence and prognosis of synchronous distant metastatic tonsil squamous cell carcinomas. Int J Med Sci. 18(2):528-533.

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