Aim: The surgical margin is usually considered an important prognostic factor in oral oncology. However, the real value of a close surgical margin and its relationship with survival is still unclear. Thus, the present report sought to identify the relationship between close surgical margins and overall 3-year survival, whilst also analyzing the association between such margins and recurrence. Materials and Methods: The medical records of 200 patients affected by oral squamous cell carcinoma were retrospectively reviewed. The patients were divided into three groups: positive margin (0-2 mm), close margin (2-5 mm), and negative margin (>5 mm). The relationship between surgical margins and overall survival and recurrence rate was analyzed. Results: Surgical margins and reoperation were found to have no significant association with overall survival (P > 0.05). Overall survival was 63% in our sample. Specifically, this was 50%, 64.7% and 66.2% in patients with positive, close and free margins, respectively. Perineural invasion, pN, and locoregional or cervical recurrences were the factors most directly related to overall survival. Discussion: The results of this study indicate that surgical margins are not directly related to overall survival and other factors might significantly influence patient outcomes. Advanced T stage, node involvement, perineural invasion, and ECS are strongly linked with patient survival (P < 0.05). These findings should be carefully evaluated in patients with close surgical margins. Our results indicate that an aggressive adjuvant treatment of patients with close surgical margins could help in obtaining a similar pattern of overall survival with patients with negative margins.
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