JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Cervical nodal metastases in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: what to expect.

Head & Neck 2001 November
The treatment and management of malignancies of the head and neck is directly altered by the presence of metastatic cervical adenopathy. The treatment of nodal metastases in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCCA) is determined by the lymphatic drainage of the upper aerodigestive tract. The lymphatic drainage is site-specific and occurs in a predictable manner. The purpose of this text is to provide an overview of the normal routes of lymphatic drainage in the head and neck and correlate this with the current nodal classification system. The specific aims of this manuscript are to 1) illustrate the expected lymphatic drainage patterns of HNSCCA arising in the different subsites (nasopharynx, oropharynx, oral cavity, larynx, and hypopharynx) and 2) review the expected frequency of metastases within nodal groups for HNSCCA that arise in these locations. An understanding of the topographical distribution and incidence of cervical lymph node metastases plays an integral role in the physical examination and radiological evaluation of patients with HNSCCA. For the neuroradiologist, this information may increases the ability to identify those nodal groups at risk for metastatic involvement.

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