To review our institutional experience of patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and N2-N3 neck disease with respect to neck recurrence after chemoradiation without planned neck dissection (ND).
Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Fifty-four adults with locally advanced SCCHN and N2-N3 neck disease.
Eighty consecutive patients were treated with chemoradiation, 70 Gy given as 2 Gy daily for 7 weeks, with cisplatin, 20 mg/m2, given on the first 4 days of weeks 1 and 5. Of the 80 patients, 54 were evaluable.
Main Outcome Measures
Primary outcomes were overall survival and absence or presence of neck disease after chemoradiation. Secondary outcomes included disease-specific survival and locoregional recurrence-free survival.
Median follow-up of living patients was 35 months. Patients with a complete response (CR) did not have any planned ND. Factors associated with the absence of recurrent neck disease included CR (P < .001), younger age (P = .02), and better Karnofsky Performance Status (P = .049). In patients achieving CR, 2-year overall, disease-specific, and locoregional recurrence-free survival was 92%, 95%, and 95%, respectively. Three of the 43 patients (7%) with N2 lesions obtaining CR subsequently experienced a neck recurrence at a median of 15 months (range, 7-24 months).
In these patients with locally advanced SCCHN and N2-N3 neck disease treated with chemoradiation and achieving CR, only a few patients with N2 neck disease experienced recurrence despite the absence of planned ND. Prospective trials are needed to identify patients with N2 neck disease who may still benefit from planned ND after chemoradiation. There were not enough patients with N3 neck disease to make any recommendations.