How does perineural invasion affect the prognosis of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Perineural invasion has been estimated to occur in up to 7% of persons with cutaneous SCC. The prognosis in such cases is worse, with historical rates of metastasis reported to be as high as 47%. Much lower rates of metastasis (8%) have been reported using Mohs micrographic surgery. [33] The degree of nerve involvement likely has a large impact on prognosis.

Involvement of major (ie, named) nerve branches carries a very high risk of recurrence. The risks are substantially decreased when tumor-free margins are painstakingly obtained by removal of the involved nerve. However, the prognosis is still guarded.

One study showed the diameter of involved nerves to significantly impact outcomes in cSCC. No disease-specific deaths occurred in patients with involvement of nerves that were less than 0.1 mm in diameter, compared with 32% of patients dying from cSCC when nerves of 0.1 mm or larger were involved. [34]

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