Management of cervical metastases in advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue

Steven D. Pletcher, Michael J. Kaplan, David W. Eisele, Mark I. Singer, Jeanne M. Quivey, Nancy Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To clarify the role of neck dissection following primary radiotherapy for treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue. Design: Case series. Setting: Academic, tertiary care medical center. Patients or Other Participants: A consecutive series of 45 patients with biopsy-proven squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue and cervical metastases treated with primary radiotherapy at The University of California, San Francisco, was examined. Patients with a prior history of neck irradiation, neck dissection, or head and neck cancer within 5 years were excluded. Main Outcome Measures: Overall survival and regional control. Results: Of the 45 patients treated with definitive radiotherapy, 25 (56%) achieved a complete response, 13 (29%) achieved a partial response, 4 (9%) were nonresponders, and 3 (7%) did not complete radiotherapy. Two thirds of the complete responders had N2 or N3 disease; 3 had recurrences in the neck, 1 of which was an isolated neck recurrence. Of the 13 partial responders, 5 had isolated persistence of disease, with 4 undergoing neck dissections. The only long-term survivors among the partial responders were those 4 who underwent a neck dissection. Overall survival was 50% at 3 years and 32% at 5 years. Regional control for complete responders was 84% at 5 years. Conclusions: The low rate of isolated regional recurrence in patients with a complete response to radiotherapy supports the practice of surveillance alone in such patients. Patients with less than a complete response appear to benefit from prompt surgical salvage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-986
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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