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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1992;249(4):187-94.

Management of cervical lymph nodes in patients with head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The status of the cervical lymph nodes is the single most important prognostic factor in head and neck cancer. Unfortunately, clinical assessment of the neck is not very accurate, although newer imaging techniques such as CT, MRI and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration cytology can be used to improve upon the results of clinical palpation alone. While diagnostic techniques remain less than 100% accurate, the risk of occult disease in the neck will remain. If this occurrence is judged to be greater than 15-20%, elective treatment to the neck may then be justified. When the neck is treated surgically, histological information can be gained which has both prognostic and therapeutic implications. Indications for the use of surgery and radiotherapy for the elective and therapeutic management of the neck and the results of such treatment are discussed.

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