Immediate resection of positive margins improves local control in oral tongue cancer

Lisa Zhang, Ryan T. Judd, Songzhu Zhao, Chandler Rygalski, Michael Li, Ashleigh Briody, Brian Swendseid, Dukagjin M. Blakaj, Amit Agrawal, Enver Ozer, Ricardo L. Carrau, Theodoros N. Teknos, Kyle VanKoevering, James W. Rocco, Matthew O. Old, Nolan B. Seim, Sidharth V. Puram, Catherine T. Haring, Stephen Y. Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study investigates the impact of immediate resection of positive margins on local control of oral tongue cancer. Materials and Methods: We analyzed 273 consecutive oral tongue cancers resected from 2013 to 2018. Additional resection was performed in cases during the initial operation based on surgeon inspection of the specimen and/or frozen margins. Positive margins were defined as invasive carcinoma/high-grade dysplasia < 1 mm from the inked edge. Patients were grouped as follows: negative margin (Group 1); positive margin with immediate additional tissue resection (Group 2); and positive margin without additional tissue resection (Group 3). Results: Overall, the rate of local recurrence was 7.7 % (21/273), and the rate of positive main specimen margin was 17.9 %. Of these patients, 38.8 % (19/49) underwent immediate additional resection of the presumed positive margin. Group 3 had higher local recurrence rates than Group 1 after adjustment for T-stage (aHR 2.8 [95 % CI 1.0–7.7], p = 0.04). Group 2 had similar rates of local recurrence (aHR 0.45 [95 % CI 0.06–3.6], p = 0.45). Three year local recurrence free survival for Groups 1, 2, and 3 were 91 %, 92 % and 73 %, respectively. Compared to the main specimen margin, sensitivity of intraoperative frozen tumor bed margins was 17.4 %, and specificity was 95 %. Conclusion: In patients with positive main specimen margins, anticipation and detection in real-time with immediate additional tissue resection reduced local recurrence to rates similar to those with negative main specimen margins. These findings support the use of technology to provide real-time intraoperative margin data and guide additional resection for improved local control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106402
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Frozen sections
  • Main specimen margin
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Resection positive margins
  • Surgical margins


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