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Oral Oncol. 2008 Dec;44(12):1134-8. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2008.02.017. Epub 2008 May 16.

The role of selective neck dissection (I-III) in the treatment of node negative (N0) neck in oral cancer.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, Regional Cancer Center, Medical College Campus, Trivandrum 695 003, Kerala, India.


It is now possible to limit the extent of selective neck dissection for mucosal squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck by sparing selected lymphatic levels thereby reducing the morbidity. This has been brought about by our improved understanding of the metastasis behavior of these cancers. Studies have demonstrated similar rates of neck recurrences and survival after selective neck dissection compared to modified radical neck dissection. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of selective neck dissection (SND) in managing the N0 neck in oral cavity carcinomas. A retrospective analysis of Squamous cell carcinoma of oral cavity with N0 neck from 1998 to 2004 was performed. Statistical analysis was done using SPSS software. The chi-square test was used to compare the various proportions. The overall and disease-free survival were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and statistical significant difference in survival was tested by log rank test. Out of the 219 cases, 84% were in the early stage and 16% were in the late stages. Seventy two percent of the patients had primary tumors in the anterior two-thirds of the tongue. One hundred and sixty one patients were pathologically node negative. There was no statistically significant difference in the regional recurrence between the pN0 and pN+ patients. There was no difference in the regional recurrence inside and outside the surgical field. The pathological node positive patients had a worse disease-free survival (DFS) compared to the node negative patients, and the patients with nodal recurrence had a significantly worse DFS compared to patients without nodal recurrence. SND (I-III) is a sound and effective procedure in the management of clinically negative neck in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Clinically N0 neck but pathologically N+ neck requires adjuvant radiation therapy. It probably has a therapeutic role in the selected cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity with N1 neck, and in these cases an extension of dissection to levels IV and V is beneficial.

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