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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2000 Feb;21(2):310-4.

Nodal volume reduction after concurrent chemo- and radiotherapy: correlation between initial CT and histopathologic findings.

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Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.



The role of concurrent chemoradiation for treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is expanding. We sought to evaluate the CT appearance of diseased and normal cervical lymph nodes before and after concurrent chemoradiation and to correlate lymph node volume reduction as revealed by CT with histopathologic findings of resected nodes.


Using concurrent chemoradiation, we treated seven patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Our chemotherapeutic regimen consisted of cisplatin (100 mg/m2 body surface area administered on days 1 through 4 and 29 through 32) and 5-fluorouracil (1000 mg/m2 body surface area, administered on days 1 through 4 and 29 through 32). Radiotherapy was administered twice per day on dosing days 1 through 42 to a total dose of 7200 cGy to the primary tumor and 6000 cGy to the involved lymph nodes. Pre- and post-treatment CT scans were used to calculate lymph node volumes for all CT-positive (size criteria or extracapsular spread or both) diseased nodes (n = 19) and one normal node per patient (n = 7). Volume reduction was determined by CT results and correlated with the histopathologic findings of resected nodes.


Average volume reduction (+/- standard error of the mean) for the 19 diseased nodes was 91%+/-4% and for the seven normal nodes was 55%+/-21% (P < .02, two-sided t test). Fifteen of 19 of the diseased lymph nodes showed extracapsular spread before treatment and none of 19 after treatment. The histopathologic findings of resected nodes included persistent tumor in one of the 19 diseased lymph nodes. Six of seven patients remained alive and disease-free, with an average follow-up duration of 24 months.


Nodal volume reduction of greater than 90% was associated with eradication of tumor as assessed by histopathologic analysis of resected nodes. Serial CT scans obtained both before and after concurrent chemoradiation may be useful for predicting which patients will benefit from adjuvant surgical therapy.

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