Management of the neck after alternating chemoradiotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer

Head Neck. 1999 May;21(3):223-8. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0347(199905)21:3<223::aid-hed7>;2-#.


Background: To investigate neck control probability and the value of nodal response at completion of alternating chemoradiotherapy, a group of 43 patients was reviewed.

Methods: Patients were treated with 60 Gy alternated with four cycles of cisplatin and fluorouracil. All patients had lymph nodes positive for squamous cell carcinoma from various primary sites, underwent computed tomography (CT) for staging and evaluation of response, and were treated at a single institution. Patients with bilateral lymph nodes (N2c) were further staged according to the side of dominant neck disease.

Results: After chemoradiotherapy alone, 2-year neck control probabilities (NCP) are 86+/-13%, 58+/-10%, and 0 for N1, N2a/b, and N3 neck stages, respectively (p = .038). Two-year NCP for 25 complete responders is 85+/-8%, whereas, at the same time interval, it is 17+/-9% for 18 partial responses (p<.0001). Within patients with N1-2a/b neck disease, 21 complete responders had a 2-year NCP of 92+/-8%. Five (11%) heminecks in four patients developed severe (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group [RTOG] grade > 2) subcutaneous late reactions.

Conclusions: For patients with N1-2a/b neck disease, response at the end of treatment as evaluated by both physical exam and CT is a reliable criterion to select patients for complementary surgery even after chemoradiotherapy. For N3 disease, planned neck dissection regardless of response seems warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil