Breast cancer metastases to the head and neck: Case series and literature review | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Breast cancer metastases to the head and neck: Case series and literature review

| Reprints
March 24, 2017
by Jeremiah C. Tracy, MD; Nicholas R. Mildenhall, MD; Richard O. Wein, MD; Miriam A. O'Leary, MD


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Despite the relatively high prevalence of this disease, breast cancer manifestations in the head and neck are relatively rare. Supraclavicular lymphadenopathy and bony metastases to the mandible and maxilla are the most common manifestation of breast cancer in the head and neck. Head and neck metastases are the first presentation of distant disease in approximately one-third of cases. The prognosis of breast cancer with distant metastases to the head and neck is generally poor, and the management of these lesions is controversial. Overall extent of disease and individual patient prognosis must guide treatment decisions. Atypical cases including maxillary sinus mass, jugular foramen mass, and dermal metastases are presented. Metastatic breast cancer is a rare diagnosis in the head and neck, yet metastatic disease from an infraclavicular primary deserves inclusion on any comprehensive differential diagnosis list. In women, breast carcinoma is the most common infraclavicular primary to metastasize to the head and neck.

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