Management of the Neck in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oral Cavity and Oropharynx: ASCO Clinical Practice Guideline

J Clin Oncol. 2019 Jul 10;37(20):1753-1774. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.01921. Epub 2019 Feb 27.


Purpose: The aim of the current work is to provide evidence-based recommendations to practicing physicians and others on the management of the neck in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx.

Methods: ASCO convened an Expert Panel of medical oncology, surgery, radiation oncology, and advocacy experts to conduct a literature search, which included systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, and prospective and retrospective comparative observational studies published from 1990 through 2018. Outcomes of interest included survival, regional disease control, neck recurrence, and quality of life. Expert Panel members used available evidence and informal consensus to develop evidence-based guideline recommendations.

Results: The literature search identified 124 relevant studies to inform the evidence base for this guideline. Six clinical scenarios were devised; three for oral cavity cancer and three for oropharynx cancer, and recommendations were generated for each one.

Recommendations: For oral cavity cancers, clinical scenarios focused on the indications for and the hallmarks of a high-quality neck dissection, indications for postoperative radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy, and whether radiotherapy alone is sufficient elective treatment of an undissected neck compared with high-quality neck dissection. For oropharynx cancers, clinical scenarios focused on hallmarks of a high-quality neck dissection, factors that would favor operative versus nonoperative primary management, and clarifying criteria for an incomplete response to definitive chemoradiation for which salvage neck dissection would be recommended. Consensus was reached and recommendations were made for all six clinical scenarios. Additional information is available at .

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neck Dissection
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Research Design
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States