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Sao Paulo Medical Journal

Print version ISSN 1516-3180


KOHLER, Hugo Fontan  and  KOWALSKI, Luiz Paulo. Who are the low-risk patients that could benefit from watch-and-wait regarding the neck?. Sao Paulo Med. J. [online]. 2011, vol.129, n.5, pp.285-290. ISSN 1516-3180.

CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: The management of clinically negative neck is controversial, with an ongoing debate on the indication criteria and prognostic impact of different types of therapy. The aim here was to compare the results from neck dissection and watch-and-wait, among oral cancer patients who, clinically, did not show any evidence of neck metastasis. DESIGN AND SETTING: Retrospective analysis in a tertiary cancer center hospital. METHODS: Patients with epidermoid oral carcinoma were assessed. The inclusion criteria were: primary tumor restricted to the oral/oropharyngeal cavity, no previous treatment, surgical treatment as the first option, clinical/radiological stage N0 and no distant metastasis. RESULTS: Two hundred and sixty-two patients were analyzed. The length of follow-up ranged from four to 369.6 months and, at the end, 118 patients were alive, 53 had died due to cancer, 84 had died from other causes and 7 had died after the operation. Among the patients who underwent neck dissection, lymphatic vascular embolization (P = 0.009) and tumor thickness (P = 0.002) were significant for regional recurrence, while for the watch-and-wait group, only tumor thickness was significant (P = 0.018). Through recursive partitioning, the patients without adverse prognostic factors and tumor thickness < 2 mm presented compatible results in the two groups. CONCLUSION: Elective neck dissection seems to be the best treatment option. Patients who are eligible for watch-and-wait constitute a small group that, ideally, is categorized according to the postoperative pathological findings

Keywords : Head and neck neoplasms; Surgical procedures, operative; Mouth neoplasms; Neck dissection; Lymphatic metastasis.

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