Sarcopenia Results in Poor Survival Rates in Oral Cavity Cancer Patients


This study aimed to determine the impact or survival of low skeletal muscle mass (SMM) among patients with oralsquamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) undergoing primary surgery.


This study was a retrospective cohort study.


OSCC patients treated at our referral center from April 2005 to March 2014 were examined.


The cohort comprised 276 patients with OSCC undergoing primary surgery.


Estimated SMM was measured by calculating the cervical skeletal muscle mass from a CT scan of the head and neck. The 5-year overall survival (OS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) were analyzed using a multivariable Cox regression model.


There were 276 patients with a male-to-female ratio of 12:1. A low SMM (< 47.5 cm2 /m2 ) was associated with worse survival. After adjustment for other factors, the result remained robust for OS (hazard ratio [HR] 1.74, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-2.67) and disease-specific survival (HR 1.67, 95% CI 1.04-2.67). In the subgroup analysis, worse OS and DSS was particularly noted in male patients (HR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.22-2.97; HR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.27-3.19) and in those younger than 60 years of age (HR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.14-3.22; HR = 2.12, 95% CI 1.23-3.64) with low SMM.


Low SMM was a significant independent factor that was associated with lower survival in patients who have oral cavity cancers and are undergoing primary surgery. Preoperative CT scans of the head and neck could be utilized to evaluate SMM, predict treatment outcomes, and facilitate nutrition management.