The occurrence of occult cervical metastases due to squamous-cell carcinoma of the hard palate and maxillary alveolar ridge has not been studied systematically. We have observed that many patients return with a delayed cervical metastasis following resection of a primary cancer at these sites. Some of these patients have died as a result of a regional or distant metastasis, despite control of the primary cancer. The literature contains few recommendations to guide the treatment of maxillary squamous-cell carcinoma; prospective studies are difficult due to the rarity of such tumours. The aim of this study is to define the incidence of cervical metastasis and to investigate whether elective neck dissection is justified. We present a retrospective multicentre study of 65 patients with squamous-cell carcinomas of the maxillary alveolar ridge and hard palate and review of the existing literature. The overall incidence of cervical metastases was 21%. We evaluated the significance of primary-site tumours as indicator of regional disease. The maxillary squamous-cell carcinoma cases in our multicentre study and in the literature review exhibited aggressive regional metastatic behaviour, comparable with that of carcinomas of the tongue, mouth floor, and mandibular gingiva. Based on our findings, we recommend selective neck dissection in clinically negative necks as a primary management strategy for patients with maxillary squamous-cell carcinomas involving the palate, maxillary gingiva, or maxillary alveolus. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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