Indian Journal of Dental ResearchIndian Journal of Dental ResearchIndian Journal of Dental Research
Indian Journal of Dental Research   Login   |  Users online:

Home Bookmark this page Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font size Increase font size         


CASE REPORT Table of Contents   
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 496-498
Phalange metastasis from carcinoma of alveolus

1 Department of Radiotherapy & Oncology, Rural Medical College, Loni, Ahmednagar, Maharastra, India
2 Department of Pathology, Rural Medical College, Loni, Ahmednagar, Maharastra, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission22-Aug-2007
Date of Decision25-Apr-2008
Date of Acceptance30-May-2008
Date of Web Publication29-Jan-2010


Metastatic involvement of a phalanx by head and neck cancers is rare. We report a case of a 66-year-old man with squamous cell carcinoma of the alveolus who had no residual disease or local recurrence after treatment but presented with metastasis to the middle phalanx of the middle finger.

Keywords: Metastasis, phalanx, carcinoma, alveolus

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava R, Singh K K, Umbarker B R, Karle R, Shrivastava M. Phalange metastasis from carcinoma of alveolus. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:496-8

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava R, Singh K K, Umbarker B R, Karle R, Shrivastava M. Phalange metastasis from carcinoma of alveolus. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2009 [cited 2023 Sep 22];20:496-8. Available from:
Cancers of the head and neck have traditionally been considered to be locoregional disease, as distant spread from the primary is rare. Crile [1] in 1923 reported distant metastasis in only 1% (45/4500) of patients with head and neck cancers. Subsequently, Merino et al., [2] in 1977 reported an overall incidence of distant metastasis of 10.9%. Over the last two decades improvements in surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy have changed the scenario. Due to better control of disease, with patients surviving for longer periods, metastasis is being seen at new, unusual, sites. In head and neck cancers, the most common sites for distant metastasis are lung (52%), skeletal system (20.3%), and liver (6%). [2] In the skeletal system it is uncommon to have metastasis distal to the elbow or the knee joint. It is very rare for head and neck cancers to involve the phalanges, though bronchogenic carcinoma does sometimes present with metastasis to a phalanx. [3] We report a case of alveolar carcinoma who presented with a swollen middle finger at follow-up, which was later diagnosed to be due to a metastatic lesion.

   Case Report Top

A 66-year-old male presented as a postoperative case of carcinoma of the lower alveolus (T4N0M0). He had been operated 20 days back at another institution for a proliferative mass over the alveolus that had spread to involve the mandible. A right-sided mandibular composite resection with right modified neck dissection type II had been done. The postoperative histopathological specimen had revealed it to be a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma that had infiltrated connective tissue and bone. At presentation to Rural Medical College, Loni, institution, the expected postoperative changes were present but there was no evidence of any macroscopic disease. After examination and metastatic work-up, he was started on locoregional radiotherapy. He received 66 Gy/33 fractions/6.5 weeks. He was then kept on regular follow-up. After 1 year he developed a swelling in his left middle finger, which was painless and increased in size gradually over a period of 6 months [Figure 1]. X-ray showed destruction of the middle phalanx [Figure 2]. Bone scan showed a hot spot, suggestive of skeletal metastasis [Figure 3]. The rest of the skeletal system was normal. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) was performed, which showed poorly differentiated malignant cells [Figure 4]. The patient was planned for radiotherapy by mould technique using a high- dose- rate remote afterloading brachytherapy system. He received 52.5 Gy/15 fractions/8 days, with two fractions per day given 6 hours apart. After completion of radiotherapy he was started on chemotherapy with paclitaxel and carboplatin. Four weeks after he had received the first cycle of chemotherapy, he complained of severe pain in his lower back region. There was tenderness over the lumber spine with loss of power in both legs (grade III - WHO criteria). The X-ray showed compression of the L4 vertebrae with right pedicle destruction. He was given palliative radiotherapy to the lumbar spine (30 Gy/10 fractions/2 weeks) followed by the second cycle of chemotherapy. After completion of radiotherapy, power in both legs improved to grade IV. One week prior to the date for his third cycle of chemotherapy the patient died at home. The cause of death is unknown as the relatives did not take the patient to the hospital and an autopsy could not be performed.

   Discussion Top

Improvements in treatment modalities and disease control at the primary site better in the recent years, has lead to a change in the recurrence pattern and metastases to unusual sites. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] In 2002, Shridhar Iyer et al., [4] reported two cases of hypopharyngeal carcinoma which spread to the percardium. Similarly, Schwender et al., [5] reported a case of carcinoma of the oral cavity which had spread to the pericardium, lung, and thyroid. Recently, Zemann et al., [6] reported a case of carcinoma of the buccal mucosa with metastasied to the myocardium.

Bronchogenic carcinoma has been known to spread to the fingers. Sanchez et al., [10] reported a case of bronchogenic carcinoma which had metastasized to the fingers. Kerin et al., [3] reported that bronchogenic carcinoma was the most common primary to metastasize to part of the finger, followed by breast cancer.

In the present case, the patient had received radical treatment for carcinoma of the alveolus, undergoing both surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy. Nevertheless, during the follow-up period he had developed a swelling in his middle finger which was confirmed on FNAC to be metastatic disease. Although disease at the primary site was controlled, he had developed secondaries in a phalanx; this is a rare occurrence in head and neck cancers. Later, he also had involvement of the L4 vertebrae.

Treatment modalities are today more refined, and more and more patients are being treated with organ preservation intent. With the use of concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, better locoregional control is now possible. However, as patients survive for longer periods, distant metastasis will be seen more often and, in addition, clinicians can expect to encounter many more atypical presentations as metastasis to new and unusual sites may occur.

   References Top

1.Crile GW. Carcinoma of the jaws, tongue, cheek and lips. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1923:36:159-84.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Merino OR, Lindberg RD, Fletcher GH. An analysis of distant metstasis from squamous carcinoma of upper respiratory and digestive tracts. Cancer 1977:40;145-51.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Kerin R. Metastatic tumors of the hand. A review of literature. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1983;65:1331-5.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Iyer S, Sanghvi V, Lala M. Atypical distant metstasis from hypopharyngeal cancer. Indian J Cancer 2002:39;66-8.  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.Schwender FT, Wollner I, Kunju LP, Nakhleh RE, Chan KM. Squamous cell carcinoma of the buccal mucosa with metastases to the pericardial cavity, lung and thyroid. Oral Oncol 2002;38;114-6.  Back to cited text no. 5      
6.Zemann W, Feichtinger M, Kowatsch E, Schanbacher M, Kärcher H. Cardiac metastasis after squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity: Case report. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2007:45;425-6.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Mathew BS, Jayasree K, Madhavan J, Nair MK, Rajan B. Skeletal metastases and bone marrow infiltration from squamous cell carcinoma of the buccal mucosa. Oral Oncol 1997:33;454-5.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Behranwala KA, Mohite JD. Squamous cell carcinoma metstasis to both sides of the heart- a case report. Indian J Cancer 2001:38;46-8.  Back to cited text no. 8      
9.Hardee PS, Hutchison IL. Intracranial metstasis from oral squamous cell carcinoma. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2001:39;282-5.  Back to cited text no. 9      
10.Marcos Sánchez F, Albo Castaño MI, Viana Alonso A, Gómez Martín J, Juárez Ucelay F. Distal phalange metastasis as the first sign of an undifferentiated lung carcinoma. An Med Interna 2006:23;147.  Back to cited text no. 10      

Correspondence Address:
Rajeev Shrivastava
Department of Radiotherapy & Oncology, Rural Medical College, Loni, Ahmednagar, Maharastra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.59452

Rights and Permissions


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

This article has been cited by
1 Metastasis to the finger of oral floor squamous cell carcinoma: A case report
Emiko Tanaka Isomura, Munehiro Hamaguchi, Nao Nishimura, Ayako Ushimura, Mari Namikawa
Clinical Case Reports. 2021; 9(1): 8
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Acrometastases to the Hand: A Systematic Review
Giuseppe Emmanuele Umana, Gianluca Scalia, Paolo Palmisciano, Maurizio Passanisi, Valerio Da Ros, Gianluca Pompili, Fabio Barone, Paolo Amico, Santino Ottavio Tomasi, Francesca Graziano, Iolanda Valeria Patti, Stefania Mele, Rosario Maugeri, Giovanni Raffa, Giuseppe Roberto Giammalva, Gerardo Domenico Iacopino, Antonino GermanÚ, Giovanni Federico Nicoletti, Massimo Ippolito, Maria Gabriella Sabini, Salvatore Cicero, Lidia Strigari, Giacomo Cuttone
Medicina. 2021; 57(9): 950
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 A case of squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue with metastasis to a phalange of the hand
Japanese Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2021; 67(6): 372
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Metastases to the Hand and Wrist: An Analysis of 221 Cases
Ahmadreza Afshar,Payam Farhadnia,Hamidreza Khalkhali
The Journal of Hand Surgery. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded163    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal