Elective versus therapeutic radical neck dissection in epidermoid carcinoma of the oral cavity: results of a randomized clinical trial

Cancer. 1980 Jul 15;46(2):386-90. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19800715)46:2<386::aid-cncr2820460229>3.0.co;2-9.


This study concerns 75 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity who were patients at the Gustave-Roussy Institute between December 1966 and July 1973. These patients were divided into two groups. The first group was comprised of 39 patients who underwent elective radical neck dissection; nodal involvement was present in 49% with capsular rupture in 13%. In the second group of 36, neck disease appeared during follow up in 19 cases. Therapeutic radical neck dissection was carried out in 17; the nodes were histologically positive in 15, 9 of which had a capsular rupture. In 2 cases, local or general conditions did not permit operative intervention. In this group, the involvement rate was 47% with a 25% capsular rupture rate. However, the comparison of the survival curves by the log-rank test did not reveal any differences, even though histologic prognostic factors were taken into account. These findings led to the conclusion that in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity staged T1N0, T2N0, or T3N0 (from AJC's and UICC's clinical staging system), it seems possible, without risk, to delay neck dissection until a node is detectable, although it is reasonable to perform elective neck dissection in those cases in which the patient is unavailable for regular followup.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Neck Dissection* / methods
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors
  • Tongue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tongue Neoplasms / surgery