This study investigated the incidence and routes of submandibular gland involvement in oral cavity carcinoma to determine the feasibility of submandibular gland sparing neck dissection.
The records of 155 patients diagnosed with oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma, with a total of 183 neck specimens, including those involving level I, were reviewed retrospectively.
Submandibular gland involvement, via direct invasion from the anatomical proximity of T4a tumours, was evident in two patients. The floor of mouth location, either primarily or as an extension of the primary tumour, was the only risk factor for submandibular gland involvement in oral cavity carcinoma (p = 0.042). Tumour location, clinical and pathological tumour (T) and nodal (N) stages, and radiological suspicion of mandible invasion, were not found to be statistically relevant (p > 0.05).
The results suggest the feasibility of preserving the submandibular gland in early stage oral cavity carcinoma unless the tumour is located in, or extends to, the floor of mouth.