Background. Malignancies involving the bones are metastatic tumors more commonly than primary tumors. In this retrospective study, the authors review metastatic disease in the jaws. Methods. The authors retrieved cases of metastatic disease in the jaws over a 45-year period from the pathology archives at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor, and Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis. Results. The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of 114 cases of metastatic disease in the jaws and found that approximately 60 percent of subjects had no history of malignancy. The sex distribution was equivalent. Mandibular predilection was more prominent in females than in males. Metastases from the breast were significantly greater than those from the lung and prostate (P ≤ .05), the second and third most frequent sites, respectively. Women exhibited twice as many jaw metastases as did men 31 to 40 years of age and significantly fewer metastases than did men 71 to 80 years of age (P ≤ .05). Conclusion. In the majority of cases, subjects had an undiagnosed primary cancer at the time the metastatic jaw disease presented. The most common site of origin of the primary cancer was the breast, when primary sites were considered independent of sex. Clinical Implications. Patients with metastatic disease in the jaws may have innocuous dental symptoms, such as pulpal or periodontal pain; therefore, clinicians will play a significant role in diagnosing the life-threatening disease.
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