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November 1988

The Optimal Treatment for Small Tongue Cancers

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1988;114(11):1227. doi:10.1001/archotol.1988.01860230021003

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Dr K. Thomas Robbins, and coauthors, Houston, at the annual meeting of the Triological Society in Palm Beach, Fla, recently reviewed the treatment of 150 patients with T1N0 or T2N0 cancer of the tongue at M. D. Anderson Hospital, Houston. The best disease-free survival at five years (86%) was achieved in 26 patients who had partial glossectomy with elective supraomohyoid neck dissection. In contrast, 77 patients treated with partial glossectomy alone had a five-year disease-free survival of only 69%. Overall, five-year survival was not significantly different at 91% and 90%, respectively. Radiation therapy had the poorest results, with five-year survival rates of 69% disease free and 78% overall.

The authors concluded that even small tongue cancers warrant aggressive management, and that initial surgery is more effective than radiation therapy. Supraomohyoid neck dissection adds very little morbidity to the initial surgery and provides effective control of the primary echelon lymph nodes.

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