We defined the occult nodal metastasis (ONM) rate of clinical node-negative salivary gland malignancies and examined the role of elective neck dissection (END). Meta-analysis querying four databases, from inception of databases to March 25th, 2020. Fifty-one studies with 11 698 patients were included. ONM rates were 64% for salivary ductal carcinoma (SDC), 51% for undifferentiated carcinoma, 34% for carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma (CXPA), 32% for adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified (ANOS), 31% for lymphoepithelial carcinoma (LE), 20% for mucoepidermoid carcinoma, 17% for acinic cell carcinoma, and 17% for adenoid cystic carcinoma. T3/T4 tumors had a 2.3 times increased risk of ONM than T1/T2 tumors. High-grade tumors had a 3.8 times increased risk of ONM than low/intermediate-grade tumors. ONM rates were exceedingly high for T3/T4, high-grade, and undifferentiated, SDC, ANOS, CXPA, and LE tumors, indicating the potential role of END.
Keywords: elective neck dissection; occult nodal metastasis; parotid cancer; salivary gland cancer; salivary gland malignancy.
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