Unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma with a solitary metastasis to the mandible

Ryan Li, Rohan R. Walvekar, Michael A. Nalesnik, T. Clark Gamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) continues to pose a worldwide burden on health resources with an occurrence of 1.4 million cases annually. It represents the fifth most common cancer in men and eighth most common in women worldwide. Eighty per cent of patients have a background cirrhotic liver, most commonly in the United States, resulting from chronic hepatitis C infection, whereas alcoholism also commonly contributes to the development of cirrhosis. Fifty per cent of patients diagnosed with HCC present with metastatic disease. Sites of metastasis commonly include the lungs, vertebral bones, and abdominal lymph nodes. Metastasis to the oral region is very rare. We report a 55-year-old man with metastatic HCC to the mandible. The patient was previously diagnosed with unresectable HCC and had undergone six cycles of chemoembolization therapy. Although the lesion remained stable in size, he did not qualify for liver transplantation because of active alcohol use. He presented to the emergency room for evaluation of recent-onset jaw pain. There was no history of trauma and an oral examination did not reveal any mucosal lesions. Mild swelling and tenderness of the right jaw was noted, and a subsequent CT scan revealed a right-sided mass centered around a fracture of the body of the mandible and surrounded by the masseter muscle. A biopsy of the mass revealed a metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma and a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis confirmed it to be a solitary metastasis. The patient underwent surgical resection of a segment of the right mandible and the metastatic tumor. He continues to receive regional chemoembolization and is currently pain-free. Solitary metastasis to the mandible in the setting of HCC is exceedingly rare. Fine needle aspiration biopsy of the lesion with immunohistochemical analysis is useful in characterizing the lesion and identifying the primary site. Radiotherapy has been used to palliate mandibular metastases; however, surgical intervention proved to be very effective in managing this patient's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-349
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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