Management of cervical lymph nodes in squamous carcinomas of the head and neck

Semin Surg Oncol. 1995 May-Jun;11(3):228-39. doi: 10.1002/ssu.2980110308.


Due to the overwhelming prognostic significance of regional metastases, proper management of cervical lymph nodes in cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is essential for an optimal outcome. Better understanding of the predictability of incidence and patterns of metastases of these tumors in recent years has led us away from the radical neck dissection as the only surgical therapeutic or staging procedure done on the neck. Recent studies suggest that selective removal of lymph node groups at risk in clinically negative necks, or modified neck dissections that save important structures, like the jugular vein, XI nerve, and sternocleidomastoid muscle, in clinically positive necks, are appropriate in many patients. Careful selection of the type of neck dissection and judicious use of postoperative radiation therapy can optimize cure rates as well as functional and cosmetic results.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Carotid Arteries / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Irradiation
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neck
  • Neck Dissection* / classification
  • Prognosis