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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 397-399

Massive scapular metastasis as a presenting feature of carcinoma of the lip

1 Department of Pathology, Medical College, Kolkata - 700 073, India
2 Department of Medicine, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College, Kolkata - 700 014, India

Date of Web Publication29-Nov-2010

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay K Bandyopadhyay
1B/3, Uttarpara Housing Estate, 88 B, G T Road, P.O.- Bhadrakali, Dist- Hooghly - 712 232, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1482.73338

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 > Abstract 

Carcinoma of the lip is a slow-growing locally-advanced disease with low metastatic potential. Distant skeletal metastasis is reported very rarely and the vertebral column is the most common site. A 58-year-old male smoker presented with pain and massive swelling of the left scapula for six months. He also noticed a slowly-growing painful ulcerated lesion on the outer aspect of the right lower lip for last two years. Biopsy from the lip ulcer, as well as cytologic smears from the scapular mass, revealed features of squamous cell carcinoma. Though no neck node was detected, patient was found to have extensive skeletal metastasis on whole body bone scan. It is rare as well as clinically appealing to have such disfiguring symptomatic massive scapular meastasis as the chief presenting feature in carcinoma of the lip.

Keywords: Carcinoma of the lip, scapular metastasis, squamous cell carcinoma

How to cite this article:
Bandyopadhyay R, Nag D, Bandyopadhyay SK. Massive scapular metastasis as a presenting feature of carcinoma of the lip. J Can Res Ther 2010;6:397-9

How to cite this URL:
Bandyopadhyay R, Nag D, Bandyopadhyay SK. Massive scapular metastasis as a presenting feature of carcinoma of the lip. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Jan 21];6:397-9. Available from: https://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2010/6/3/397/73338

 > Introduction Top

Carcinoma of the lip accounts for 30% of oral cavity cancers and is classically a slow-growing locally-advanced disease that occurs more commonly in males with exposure to sunlight. [1] The incidence of distant metastasis is low and the common sites are lungs, liver, skin, and spleen. [2] Distant metastasis adversely impact survival and may significantly affect treatment planning. [3] Bone metastasis is rare; most have been reported in autopsy series. [4] We present a case of node-negative squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lower lip with extensive distant skeletal metastasis where symptoms due to massive left scapular deposits were the only presenting complaints.

 > Case Report Top

A 58-year-old male laborer developed rapidly increasing swelling of the left scapular bone along with persistent dull pain, aggravated by limb movements and weight bearing. After about six months, he presented to us with severe local pain unresponsive to round-the-clock analgesics and maximum at night. On examination, the entire left scapula was massively enlarged and deformed having loss of anatomic landmarks with irregular surface and tenderness on palpation [Figure 1]. The overlying skin was normal. The entire range of shoulder movement was unrestricted but painful. Fine needle aspiration was performed from scapular swelling that revealed features of metastatic SCC [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Photograph showing huge swelling over the left scapula

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Figure 2: Photomicrograph showing high power view of cytological smear showing metastatic deposits of squamous cell carcinoma in scapula (Papanicolaou stain, ×400)

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Patient was a heavy smoker for last 35 years with an average intake of 20 cigarettes per day. However, he was not addicted to tobacco or betel quid. When asked specifically, patient admits having noticed a slowly growing painful ulcerated lesion on the outer aspect of the right lower lip for last two years. The lesion was neglected initially as it caused no inconvenience to the patient. For the last two months, the ulcer had grown rather rapidly to involve the inner aspect of the lower lip extending up to the right angle of the mouth. Rest of his past, personal and family history was non-contributory.

On examination, a small shallow ulcer (about 1 cm in diameter) with everted rolled-up margin and necrotic base was identified near the right angle of mouth [Figure 3]. There was no adenopathy in the cervical region or elsewhere. Systemic examination was unrevealing. A biopsy examination performed from the lesion showed features of infiltrating well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma. Routine biochemical and hematological investigations were normal except low hemoglobin (9 g/dl) with normocytic normochromic blood picture. Direct laryngoscopy and an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy examination were unremarkable. Screening of whole body was performed next to look for other areas of metastatic deposit. Computed tomography (CT) scan of soft tissues of neck could not find out any neck node. CT thorax revealed no pulmonary parenchymal deposit or mediastinal node. On whole body bone scan (after intravenous injection of 20 mCi 99 mTc - MDP), a large photopenic area over inferior and lateral aspect of left scapula with markedly increased concentration of radiotracer over its superomedial margin was noted [Figure 4]. Increased tracer uptake was also found on both shoulder joints, right humeral shaft, left ischial tuberosity, proximal third of right femoral shaft and mid third of left femoral shaft suggesting metatasis [Figure 4]. The histopathology slides form oral lesion was reviewed. The depth of tumor invasion was measured according to Breslow scale and was found to be a deep infiltrating tumor (depth of invasion 4.9 mm).
Figure 3: Photograph showing the primary tumor involving the lower lip and right angle of mouth

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Figure 4: 99mTc – MDP bone scan showing a large photopenic area over inferior and lateral aspect of left scapula with markedly increased concentration of radiotracer over its superomedial margin, along with
increased tracer uptake on both shoulder joints and right humeral shaft

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A diagnosis of metastatic SCC of the lip with extensive scapular involvement was made. Patient was treated with combination chemotherapy ( docetaxel 80 mg/ m 2 body surface area and cisplatin 75 mg/ m 2 body suface area in weekly doses) for metastatic disease with local application of external beam radiation for pain. Patient succumbed to his illness three weeks later.

 > Discussion Top

The occurrence of distant metastasis related to carcinoma of the lip is very exceptional (0.5-2%) and can be expected in cases of advanced tumors with advanced regional disease. [5] Lungs are the most common sites accounting for two third of the cases. [4] The incidence of distant skeletal metastasis is 2.14%. [1] Common sites include the spinal vertebrae and long bones of the extremities. [1],[6] The scapula is a very uncommon site and only one case of clinically recognizable scapular metastasis has been reported till date in literature. [7]

Various parameters have been shown to be associated with increased risk of distant metastasis in SCC of the lip. [8],[9] These are advanced tumor grade, depth of invasion (denoted by Breslow score), presence of plasma cells, three or more lymph node metastasis (50% risk), bilateral lymph node metastasis, lymph nodes of 6 cm or larger, low jugular lymph node metastasis, locoregional tumor recurrence and second primary tumor. The case we presented did not have any clinically palpable neck node or any lymph node detectable by cross sectional imaging of neck and thorax. However on histological examination, the primary tumor showed higher depth of invasion.

Three unique points merit consideration in the present case. First, is the absence of neck node in this disseminated malignancy with fatal termination. Second, extensive skeletal metastasis occurred in absence of any involvement of lungs and liver, which are rather common sites for distant metastasis. Finally, disfiguring symptomatic massive scapular metastasis was the only presenting complaint that led to the ultimate discovery of the underlying pathology.

 > References Top

1.Vahtsevanos K, Ntomouchtsis A, Andreadis C, Patrikidou A, Karakinaris G, Mangoudi D, et al. Distant bone metastases from carcinoma of the lip: A report of four cases. Int J Oral Maxcillofac Surg 2007;36:180-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Papac RJ. Distant metastases from head and neck cancer. Cancer 1984;53:342-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Ferlito A, Shaha AR, Silver CE, Rinaldo A, Mondin V. Incidence and sites of distant metastases from head and neck cancer. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 2001;63:202-7.   Back to cited text no. 3
4.Marshall KA, Edgerton MT. Indication for neck dissection in carcinoma of the lip. Am J Surg 1977;133:216-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Betka J. Distant metastases from lip and oral cavity cancer. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 2001;63:217-21.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Carlson ER, Ord RA. Vertebral metastases from oral squamous cell carcinoma. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2002;60:858-62.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Boĭko NV. A rare case of metastasis of cancer of the lower lip. Vrach Delo 1966;8:123.   Back to cited text no. 7
8.Quaedvlieg PJ, Creytens DH, Epping GG, Peutz-Kootstra CJ, Nieman FH, Thissen MR, et al. Histopathological characteristics of metastasizing squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and lips. Histopathology 2006;49:256-64.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Debree R, Deurloo EE, Snow GS, Leemans CR. Screening for distant metastases in patients with head and neck cancer. Laryngoscope 2000;110:397-401.  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]


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