Medline: 3793546

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 12(12): 2101-2110, 1986.

Guidelines for radiotherapeutic techniques for cervical metastases from an unknown primary.

Carlson LS, Fletcher GH, Oswald MJ


Between 1968 and 1980, radiotherapy was part of the treatment of 120 patients with cervical nodes from an unknown primary tumor. Thirteen patients presented with supraclavicular nodes only and 14 presented with massive adenopathy; they are analyzed separately. The remaining 93 patients are analyzed in this report with emphasis on the applied radiotherapeutic techniques. Twenty of the 93 patients received radiation treatment to the neck only, 26 to the naso- and oropharynx and neck, and 47 to the naso-, oro-, and hypopharynx and neck. Fourteen patients subsequently developed a tumor at a primary site or a recurrence of metastases in the neck; in nine patients the disease recurrence was in areas that had not been irradiated. There was an increase in failures above the clavicles in patients who received irradiation to the neck alone. No correlation was found between initial tumor staging and subsequent failure, nor between types of surgical procedures and failure. In 86 of 93 (92.5%) patients there was eventual control of disease above the clavicles; 22 of the 93 patients died of disease, whereas 36 died of other causes. The determinate survival rate for the 93 patients treated with curative intent is 70% at 10 years. Guidelines for selection of techniques based on tumor and patient factors are discussed.

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