Wait-and-see policy for the no neck in early-stage oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma using ultrasonography-guided cytology: Is there a role for identification of the sentinel node?

Eline J.C. Nieuwenhuis, Jonas A. Castelijns, Rik Pijpers, Michiel W.M. Van Den Brekel, Ruud H. Brakenhoff, Isaac Van Der Waal, Gordon B. Snow, Charles R. Leemans

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Background. Management of the NO neck in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) remains controversial. We describe the outcome of patients who underwent transoral tumor excision and a wait-and-see policy for the neck staged NO by ultrasonography-guided cytology (USgFNAC). Because selection of lymph nodes for USgFNAC is currently based on size criteria, we investigated the additional value of sentinel node (SN) identification. Methods. The outcome of 161 patients with T1-T2 oral/oropharyngeal SCC was determined. In a subgroup of 39 patients the SN was identified and aspirated in addition. Results. SN identification and aspiration was possible in 38 of 39 patients but without decreasing the false-negative rate of USgFNAC. During follow-up (12-99 months) 34 of 161 (21%) patients developed lymph node metastases. After therapeutic neck dissection and postoperative radiotherapy, 27 of 34 (79%) could be salvaged (88% regional control). Conclusions. Wait-and-see seems justified in case of negative USgFNAC. Strict follow-up with USgFNAC is required. SN identification and aspiration is feasible but did not improve lymph node selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Head and neck
  • NO neck
  • Sentinel node
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Ultrasound guided cytology

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