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Authors Boyd TS, Harari PM, Tannehill SP, Voytovich MC, Hartig GK, Ford CN, Foote RL, Campbell BH, Schultz CJ
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Journal Head Neck Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Pages: 132-7
Publish Date 1998 Mar
PubMed ID 9484944

Metastatic neck nodes in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck are most commonly managed by surgery, radiotherapy, or combined-modality therapy. For combined-modality cases, the sequencing of surgery and radiotherapy is generally guided by which modality is considered preferable for treatment of the primary tumor. A postradiotherapy neck dissection is often considered for those patients with > N1 disease in which the primary is treated with radiotherapy alone.Between February 1991 and October 1995, 25 patients with node-positive squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck were treated with planned unilateral (n = 22) or bilateral (n = 3) neck dissection following high-dose radiotherapy. The primary tumor sites included: tongue base (n = 11), tonsil (n = 6), nasopharynx (n = 3), pyriform sinus (n = 2), supraglottic larynx, (n = 1), soft palate (n = 1), and unknown head and neck primary (n = 1). The specific nodal stage breakdown of the 28 individual neck dissections (25 patients) was N1 (n = 1), N2A (n = 5), N2B (n = 15), N3 (n = 7).Nineteen of the 28 neck dissections (68%) demonstrated no evidence of residual carcinoma. Of the nine positive neck dissections, six revealed malignant cells in a single nodal echelon. The 1- and 2-year rate of neck control in all 25 patients was 100% and 93%, respectively. The 1- and 2-year disease-specific survival for all 25 patients was 83% and 60%, respectively. With a minimum follow-up of 2 years, 64% of the 25 patients remain alive with no evidence of disease or dead of non-cancer causes.In this series of postradiotherapy neck dissections, two thirds of the dissections demonstrated no evidence of residual tumor (19/28, or 68%). However, there was not a direct correlation between pretreatment nodal size (neck staging), radiation dose delivered, and the likelihood of achieving a cancer-free neck dissection. Only one of 28 postradiotherapy neck dissections identified tumor outside of nodal stations II-IV. The predictable pattern of residual disease in pathologically positive cases suggests that a selective neck dissection encompassing levels II-IV may be appropriate in a majority of patients. Copyright © 2016 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System