The national cancer data base report on squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue

Weining Zhen, Lucy H. Karnell, Henry T. Hoffman, Gerry F. Funk, John M. Buatti, Herman R. Menck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background. This study provides the largest contemporary overview of presentation, care, and outcome for base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Methods. We extracted 16,188 cases from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB). Chi-square analyses were performed on selected cross-tabulations. Observed and disease-specific survival were used to analyze outcome. Results. Three-quarters had advanced-stage (III-IV) disease. Radiation therapy alone (24.5%) and combined with surgery (26.9%) were the most common treatments. Five-year observed and disease-specific survival rates were 27.8% and 40.3%, respectively. Poorer survival was significantly associated with older age, low income, and advanced-stage disease. For early-stage disease, surgery with or without irradiation had higher survival than irradiation alone. For advanced-stage disease, surgery with irradiation had the highest survival. Conclusions. Survival rates were low for base of tongue SCC, with most deaths occurring within the first 2 years. Income, stage, and age were significant prognostic factors. In this nonrandomized series, surgery with radiation therapy offered patients with advanced-stage disease the best survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-674
Number of pages15
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Base of tongue
  • Disease characteristics
  • National Cancer Data Base (NCDB)
  • Outcome
  • Patterns of care
  • SCC
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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