Combined ipsilateral treatment of cervical lymph nodes metastases from an unknown primary.B-ENT. 2008; 4(3):157-61.B
The management of squamous cell carcinoma in undetermined primary tumours in the head and neck region (approximately 5.5% of patients) is controversial.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The present report examines the outcomes for 14 patients after an initial treatment strategy directed principally at the side of the neck that is clinically involved. The distribution of nodal status was as follows: 1 N1, 8 N2A, 4 N2B, and 1 N3.
Initial treatment included a modified neck dissection in 12 cases and radical neck dissection in 2 cases, plus postoperative radiation in 10 cases. Radiotherapy was directed at the ipsilateral side of the neck alone. Concomitant radiochemotherapy was given in 2 cases. The rate of disease control on the ipsilateral side was 12/14. Two patients were treated by chemotherapy but died of their disease. The failure rate on the contralateral side was 2/14. These two patients were successfully salvaged. During follow-up, a primary tumour was detected in one case. At the end of the follow-up, 10 patients were alive.
Modified radical neck dissection combined with postoperative radiation with or without chemotherapy could be considered in N1-N3 lymph node status. Despite generally advanced disease at presentation, patients presenting with cervical metastasis from an unknown primary carcinoma have a reasonable survival expectation and aggressive treatment is warranted. Careful follow-up is required for effective salvage treatment.