Impact of obesity on the survival of patients with early-stage squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue

Neil M. Iyengar, Amit Kochhar, Patrick G. Morris, Luc G. Morris, Xi K. Zhou, Ronald A. Ghossein, Alejandro Pino, Matthew G. Fury, David G. Pfister, Snehal G. Patel, Jay O. Boyle, Clifford A. Hudis, Andrew J. Dannenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Although obesity increases risk and negatively affects survival for many malignancies, the prognostic implications in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral tongue, a disease often associated with prediagnosis weight loss, are unknown. METHODS Patients with T1-T2 oral tongue SCC underwent curative-intent resection in this single-institution study. All patients underwent nutritional assessment prior to surgery. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from measured height and weight and categorized as obese (≥ 30 kg/m2), overweight (25-29.9 kg/m2), or normal (18.5-24.9 kg/m2). Clinical outcomes, including disease-specific survival, recurrence-free survival, and overall survival, were compared by BMI group using Cox regression. RESULTS From 2000 to 2009, 155 patients (90 men, 65 women) of median age 57 years (range, 18-86 years) were included. Baseline characteristics were similar by BMI group. Obesity was significantly associated with adverse disease-specific survival compared with normal weight in univariable (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07-6.59; P = .04) and multivariable analyses (HR = 5.01; 95% CI = 1.69-14.81; P = .004). A consistent association was seen between obesity and worse recurrence-free survival (HR = 1.87; 95% CI = 0.90-3.88) and between obesity and worse overall survival (HR = 2.03; 95% CI = 0.88-4.65) though without reaching statistical significance (P = .09 and P = .10, respectively) in multivariable analyses. CONCLUSIONS In this retrospective study, obesity was an adverse independent prognostic variable. This association may not have been previously appreciated due to confounding by multiple factors including prediagnosis weight loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-991
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014


  • body mass index
  • head and neck neoplasms
  • obesity
  • prognosis
  • squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck
  • tongue neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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