The Role of Neck Dissection After Chemoradiotherapy for Oropharyngeal Cancer With Advanced Nodal Disease | Head and Neck Cancer | JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery | JAMA Network
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Original Article
February 2001

The Role of Neck Dissection After Chemoradiotherapy for Oropharyngeal Cancer With Advanced Nodal Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Clayman, Morrison, and Ginsberg and Mr Johnson) and Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology (Dr Lippman), The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001;127(2):135-139. doi:10.1001/archotol.127.2.135
Abstract

Objective  To analyze and compare the effectiveness of sequential platinum-based chemotherapy and radiotherapy with and without selective neck dissection in patients with N2a and greater stage node-positive squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx.

Design  Nonrandomized controlled trial.

Setting  Tertiary referral center.

Patients  Sixty-six patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx staged N2a or greater.

Interventions  Platinum-based induction chemotherapy followed by definitive radiation therapy; and selective neck dissections 6 to 10 weeks following the completion of radiation therapy in patients with radiographic evidence suggesting residual neck disease.

Main Outcome Measures  Locoregional recurrence and disease-free survival.

Results  Of 66 patients, 24 (36%) had complete responses in the primary local tumor (oropharynx) and regional disease (neck nodes), as assessed clinically and radiographically. These patients had lower rates of locoregional recurrence than did patients showing no or partial responses, but the differences were not significant (P>.05). Of 18 patients undergoing neck dissection, 10 (56%) had pathological evidence of residual tumor. Patients showing a complete response of regional and neck disease had significantly improved disease-specific and overall survival (P = .01 for both) compared with patients showing no or partial responses of their neck disease. Patients with no or partial responses who underwent neck dissections had significantly improved overall survival compared with similar patients who did not undergo neck dissections (P = .002).

Conclusions  Even in patients with bulky nodal disease, a complete response in the neck to sequential chemotherapy and radiotherapy may indicate that neck surgery is not necessary for good locoregional control and improved disease-free survival. Neck dissection is recommended for patients with no or partial radiographic responses.

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