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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Mar;71(3):636-43. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2012.06.181. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Selective neck dissection is effective in N1/N2 nodal stage oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma.

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  • 1Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, Ivy Hospital, Mohali, Punjab, India.



Although the efficacy of selective neck dissection (SND) in the management of a node-negative neck is established, its utility in the management of node-positive disease remains controversial. The objective of this study was to evaluate the oncologic safety of SND in the management of N1/N2 oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma.


From a prospectively collected electronic database of patients with oral cavity cancer, a retrospective analysis was conducted of patients with nonrecurrent, clinical, and/or pathologic N1/N2 oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma who underwent SND of levels I to III/IV. The patients were stratified into 2 groups: clinical N0 but pathologic N1/N2 (cN0-pN1/N2) and clinical N1/N2 (cN1/N2). The primary outcome variable of the study was the ipsilateral regional recurrence rate. Categorical data were analyzed by the 2-sided Fisher exact test, and 3-year Kaplan-Meier ipsilateral regional control rate, regional recurrence-free survival, disease-free survival, and overall survival were estimated.


Forty-nine patients constituted the study sample, with 37 patients in the cN1/N2 group and 12 patients in the cN0-pN1/N2 group. During the follow-up period of 3 years, 2 patients (∼4%) developed ipsilateral neck recurrence, and these patients were in the cN1/N2 group. The 3-year Kaplan-Meier ipsilateral regional control rate was 95%.


SND may produce a satisfactory ipsilateral regional control rate in patients with early-stage node-positive oral squamous cell carcinoma. A prospective, randomized clinical trial comparing SND with modified radical neck dissection may be required for a categorical conclusion of these findings.

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