JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Selective neck dissections for squamous carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract: patterns of regional failure.

Head & Neck 1999 September
BACKGROUND: Surgeons have been using selective neck dissections in the treatment of squamous carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract for over 20 years. To date, no data is available that can answer the question "What are the patterns of failure in the neck following a selective neck dissection and is a selective neck dissection a reliable procedure for metastatic disease?"

METHODS: To answer this question, the medical records of all patients with squamous carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, and hypopharynx treated at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center from January 1, 1985-December 31, 1990, with a selective neck dissection were reviewed. Five hundred seventeen neck dissections were analyzed: suprahyoid (41), supraomohyoid (284), and anterolateral (192). The end point of the study was regional failure and survival.

RESULTS: Regional recurrence in patients treated with a suprahyoid dissection was 43% with pathologically positive nodes. The regional recurrence in the patients treated with a supraomohyoid neck dissection was 1.9% with pathologically negative nodes, 35.7% with path N1 without postoperative radiation therapy, and 5.6% with postoperative radiation therapy. The neck staged pathologically N2B failed with and without postoperative radiation, 8.3% and 14%, respectively. Thirteen percent of the anterior/lateral neck dissections failed regionally. If multiple pathologically positive nodes (N2B) were present, the regional failure with postoperative radiation was 30% and 33.3% without postoperative radiation.

CONCLUSION: The results of this retrospective study suggest that a selective neck dissection is a satisfactory staging procedure and is a definitive operation if all the nodes are pathologically negative. However, if a node is found to be invaded with cancer, the use of postoperative radiation is advisable.

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