Cervical node involvement is the most significant prognostic factor in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. When histologic findings show node invasion, the number of positive nodes and the presence of extracapsular spread are commonly accepted as prognostic factors.
To confirm the findings of recent reports that there is no significant difference in outcome associated with extracapsular spread.
Three hundred thirty-seven patients undergoing 487 neck dissections for carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx from January 1, 1985, to December 31, 1992. For N3 node involvement, a radical neck dissection was performed; other patients underwent supraomohyoid or functional neck dissection. Two hundred forty-two patients underwent postoperative radiotherapy (mean dose, 59 Gy).
Survival capabilities calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method and significance calculated by the log rank test.
Overall 5-year survival was 50.8%. The study of prognostic factors showed no significance for extracapsular spread (P=.45). Conversely, the number of positive nodes had a significant value (P<.001).
Extracapsular node spread per se might be considered as no longer having a definitive prognostic value. These results, consistent with those of previous reports, may be due to wider use of combined treatment modalities.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:145-148