Medline: 8454479

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 25(4): 619-622, 1993.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: management after excisional biopsy of a solitary metastatic neck node.

Mack Y, Parsons JT, Mendenhall WM, et al.


The judiciousness of open biopsy of lymph node mestastases in the neck is controversial. A retrospective review of treatment results at the University of Florida in patients who underwent excisional biopsy of a solitary metastatic neck node followed by radiotherapy was undertaken to determine whether the approach resulted in increased rates of regional and distant recurrence or wound complications.

AND MATERIALS: Between October 1964 and September 1987, 41 patients were referred for radiotherapy after excisional biopsy of a solitary cervical node containing metastatic squamous cell carcinoma from a known mucosal site (19 patients) or unknown primary (22 patients) in the head and neck. None had known gross residual neck disease. The neck stage (based on N stage before surgery or size of the excised node) was unknown in seven patients, N1 in 15 patients, N2A in 18 patients, and N3A in one patient. All patients received radiotherapy to the neck and two had a planned neck dissection after radiotherapy. Doses to the nodal bed ranged from 5485 cGy to 8100 cGy (median, 6675 cGy).

The probability of control of neck disease was 95% at both 5 and 10 years. Five-year probability of disease control above the clavicles was 90%. Distant metastasis occurred in 0 of 36 patients whose disease was controlled above the clavicles vs. 3 of 5 patients who suffered failure above the clavicles.

Excisional biopsy of a solitary neck node followed by radiotherapy produced excellent regional control and no apparent increased rate of distant metastasis.

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