To assess the role of a planned neck dissection (PND) after sequential chemoradiotherapy for patients with head-and-neck cancer with N2-N3 nodal disease.We reviewed 90 patients with N2-N3 head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma treated between 1991 and 2001 on two sequential chemoradiotherapy protocols. All patients received induction and concurrent chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5-fluorocuracil, with or without tirapazamine. Patients with less than a clinical complete response (cCR) in the neck proceeded to a PND after chemoradiation. The primary endpoint was nodal response. Clinical outcomes and patterns of failure were analyzed.The median follow-up durations for living and all patients were 8.3 years (range, 1.5-16.3 year) and 5.4 years (range, 0.6-16.3 years), respectively. Of the 48 patients with nodal cCR whose necks were observed, 5 patients had neck failures as a component of their recurrence [neck and primary (n = 2); neck, primary, and distant (n = 1); neck only (n = 1); neck and distant (n = 1)]. Therefore, PND may have benefited only 2 patients (4%) [neck only failure (n = 1); neck and distant failure (n = 1)]. The pathologic complete response (pCR) rate for those with a clinical partial response (cPR) undergoing PND (n = 30) was 53%. The 5-year neck control rates after cCR, cPR?pCR, and cPR?pPR were 90%, 93%, and 78%, respectively (p = 0.36). The 5-year disease-free survival rates for the cCR, cPR?pCR, and cPR?pPR groups were 53%, 75%, and 42%, respectively (p = 0.04).In our series, patients with N2-N3 neck disease achieving a cCR in the neck, PND would have benefited only 4% and, therefore, is not recommended. Patients with a cPR should be treated with PND. Residual tumor in the PND specimens was associated with poor outcomes; therefore, aggressive therapy is recommended. Studies using novel imaging modalities are needed to better assess treatment response.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.07.042
View details for Web of Science ID 000305256000055
View details for PubMedID 22137026