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Free Content Oral Cavity Cancer: A Review of Patterns of Spread

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Tumors arising in the oral cavity are typically diagnosed by clinical examination, but imaging plays a critical role in evaluating the extent of disease. CT and MR imaging provide important information about submucosal, perineural, and perimuscular spread as well as mandibular and maxillary involvement. Knowing the common pathways of tumor spread unique to the oral cavity helps the radiologist identify these important but sometimes subtle findings. This article reviews the major patterns of oral cavity cancer spread with the use of CT, MR imaging, clinical photographs, and pathologic specimens. Specific subsites of the oral cavity such as the FOM, oral tongue, hard palate, RMT, and buccal mucosa are each discussed separately.
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