Outcomes after primary chemoradiotherapy for N3 (>6 cm) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after an FDG-PET--guided neck management policy

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Background.The purpose of this study was to assess whether a positron emission tomography (PET)-directed policy remains appropriate for managing neck nodes (N3; >6 cm) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).Methods.All patients with N3 (>6 cm) HNSCC treated with definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) at our institution between 2005 and 2012 were included in the analysis. Patients underwent PET assessment before and 12 weeks after CRT. Neck dissections were performed for PET-avid residual nodal abnormalities after complete response at the primary site. Rate of isolated nodal failure (INF) was the primary outcome.Results.Median follow-up from diagnosis for 33 patients was 30 months (range, 6−76 months). INF occurred in 2 patients (6%) with neck dissections performed in 4 cases (12%). First failure was predominantly distant metastatic (10; 30%).Conclusion.The rate of INF remains low when following a PET-directed neck management policy after definitive CRT for N3 (>6 cm) HNSCC. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 36: 1200–1206, 2014

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