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J Cancer Res Ther. 2016 Jul-Sep;12(3):1114-1116. doi: 10.4103/0973-1482.164705.

Management of the neck in early oral cancers: Is the verdict out?

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  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology, HCG Cancer Center, Head and Neck Services, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
  • 2Department of ENT-Head Neck Surgery, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, KLE University, Belgaum, Karnataka, India.
  • 3Department of Surgical Oncology, St. John's Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.


The management of patients with the clinically negative neck (N0) in early oral cancers awaits a clear mandate despite growing evidence favoring elective neck dissection. Having a general policy of operating all N0 neck may indeed increase the number of unnecessary neck dissection in the true pathological N0 necks, a more commonly encountered scenario. This controversy needs to be looked beyond statistical evidence to address a larger question to "does the neck truly harbor disease," thus, refining the early age old debate. This article highlights the feasibility of wait and watch policy, while elaborating a stringent algorithm to judiciously select patients in whom the neck may be safely observed.

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