Oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is considered to be the most frequent cancer in the head and neck region. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, the patients prognosis with oral SCC remains largely unchanged for decades. The lymph node involvement is the most important factor in determining the prognosis of these patients. The incidence of occult metastasis in cervical lymph nodes of patients with oral SCC is high, accounting for 23.1% to 42% in clinical stages I and II, respectively, probably due to the extensive vascularization. This occurence remains a strong argument for the indication of elective neck dissection. This study is designed to evaluate the clinical and pathological features and immunohistochemical expression of biomarkers potentially associated with risk of lymph node metastasis in early squamous cell carcinomas (T1-T2) of the tongue and mouth floor. The identification of these molecules that are associated with the metastatic process may be important for the exploration of new methods for early diagnosis, prognostic evaluation and standardization of new therapeutic strategies. Thus, the careful determination of these patients with oral SCC and an increased risk of developing regional metastasis based on tumor biological knowledge can be used to select a suitable and safe indication of elective neck dissection.
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