Results of Salvage Treatment of the Neck in Patients With Oral Cancer | Head and Neck Cancer | JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery | JAMA Network
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Original Article
January 2002

Results of Salvage Treatment of the Neck in Patients With Oral Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Head and Neck Surgery and Otorhinolaryngology Department, Centro de Tratamento e Pesquisa Hospital do Câncer A. C. Camargo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002;128(1):58-62. doi:10.1001/archotol.128.1.58

Background  About 50% of the patients with neck recurrences after the treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma are not considered candidates for further treatment, and reported survival is generally poor.

Objective  To evaluate the prognostic importance of neck recurrences and results of salvage treatment in patients with oral carcinoma.

Patients  Five hundred thirteen patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity underwent surgical treatment, with follow-up from less than 2 to 119 months (mean, 16.9 months).

Setting  Referral center, private or institutional practice, and ambulatory and hospital care center.

Intervention  Four hundred forty-eight patients underwent neck dissection, and 65, resection of the primary tumor only. Postoperative radiotherapy was used for 228.

Main Outcome Measures  Rates of neck recurrences and survival after salvage treatment.

Results  Eighty-two patients (16.0%) had neck recurrences, including ipsilateral in 44, contralateral in 31, and bilateral in 7. Most neck recurrences (77 [94%]) were diagnosed within 2 years. Salvage treatment was attempted in 51 patients (62%). Of the patients with a previously untreated side of the neck, 27 underwent radical neck dissections (11 ipsilateral and 16 contralateral) and only 5 remained with no evidence of disease. The significant factors associated with survival after neck recurrence were type of previous neck dissection (P<.001), previous postoperative radiotherapy (P = .003), and interval free of neck recurrence (P<.001).

Conclusions  Patients undergoing previous neck dissection and with recurrences diagnosed after 6 months are not usually candidates for curative salvage treatment and are at a high risk for death. Only 5 of 46 patients with recurrences in a previously untreated side of the neck survived after salvage treatment. Patients with neck recurrences have a poor prognosis, despite salvage treatment.