A total of 268 patients were identified with a median age of 74. All lymph node metastases were treated with LND, and 65% of the patients received adjuvant radiotherapy. After LND, 35% developed recurrent disease both locoregionally and distantly. Patients with more than one positive lymph node had an increased risk for recurrent disease. 165 (62%) patients died during follow-up of whom 77 (29%) due to cSCC. The 5-year OS- and DSS rate were 36% and 52%, respectively. Disease-specific survival was significantly worse in immunosuppressed patients, patients with primary tumors >2cm and patients with more than one positive lymph node.
Although cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is common, lymph node metastases are relatively rare and are usually treated with lymph node dissection (LND). The aim of this study was to describe the clinical course and prognosis after LND for cSCC at all anatomical locations.
A retrospective search at three centres was performed to identify patients with lymph node metastases of cSCC who were treated with LND. Prognostic factors were identified by uni- and multivariable analysis.
This study shows that LND for patients with lymph node metastases of cSCC leads to a 5-year DSS of 52%. After LND, approximately one-third of the patients develop recurrent disease (locoregional and/or distant), which underscores the need for better systemic treatment options for locally advanced cSCC. The size of the primary tumor, more than one positive lymph node, and immunosuppression are independent predictors for risk of recurrence and disease-specific survival after LND for cSCC.