Metastatic Tumors to the Oral Soft Tissues and Jawbones: A Retrospective Analysis of 40 Cases and Review of the Literature

Dan P. Ho, Peter E. Wilkinson, Rachel I Vogel, Rajaram Gopalakrishnan, Prokopios Argyris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Metastasis to the oral soft tissues and jawbones is rare and frequently associated with wide spread disease and dismal prognosis. Herein, we report the clinicopathologic characteristics of 40 intraoral metastatic neoplasms and perform a comprehensive review of the pertinent literature. Methods: Criteria for inclusion included: (a) archived cases from the UMN Oral Pathology laboratory with available tissue blocks and/or H&E-stained preparations diagnosed between 2003 and 2021, (b) proper documentation of the clinico-radiographic characteristics of oral metastasis along with confirmed history of primary malignancy, or (c) microscopic findings consistent with metastatic disease with or without discovery of the primary site. Results: Intraoral metastases comprised 0.03% of all accessioned cases; 22 (55%) occurred in men and 18 (45%) in women (median age = 66.5; range = 18–94 years). Eighteen cases (45%) involved the gingiva, 16 (40%) the gingiva and jawbones, 5 (12.5%) were exclusively intraosseous, and 1 affected (2.5%) the tongue. The lung was the two most frequent primary site in both men (n = 6, 27.3%) and women (n = 5, 27.7%), followed by the colon (n = 4, 18.2%) and kidney (n = 3, 13.7%) in men, and colon (n = 4, 22.2%) and breast (n = 3, 16.6%) in women. Analysis of 1,084 metastatic cases from the literature (male-to-female ratio = 1.2; mean = 52.3; range = 0.6–90 years) indicated strong preference for the jawbones (69.5%) and significant site-specific predilection of certain primary malignancies. Conclusions: Oral and gnathic metastases are rare but demonstrate a clear predilection for the gingiva and mandible. Clinicians should remain cognizant of such lesions since they frequently mimic inflammatory, reactive or benign neoplastic processes and, in certain cases, are the first indication of occult disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHead and Neck Pathology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Breast
  • Gingival tumors
  • Jawbones
  • Lung
  • Metastasis
  • Metastatic neoplasms
  • Oral soft tissues
  • Osteolysis


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