• early stage;
  • tongue cancer;
  • neck dissection;
  • supraomohyoid neck dissection;
  • CT scan;
  • MRI



The role of elective and therapeutic selective neck dissection in patients with early stage cancer of the oral tongue remains controversial. The purpose was to investigate the role of neck treatment in the management of this condition.


A total of 380 patients with cT1-2N0 oral tongue cancer were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were staged by means of computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. A total of 324 patients received elective neck dissection (END), whereas 56 participants received observation (OBS). In all, 287 patients received supraomohyoid neck dissection (SOND), whereas 37 patients received modified radical neck dissection (MRND). Overall survival (OS) and neck control rates (NCR) were investigated according to the treatment modality.


In the END group the occult metastasis (OM) rates in cervical lymph nodes were 5.2% for cT1 lesions and 14.6% for cT2 lesion (P = .005). The 5-year OS (P = .029) and NCR rates (P = .001) were significantly better in the END group compared with the OBS group. Patients who received MRND had a better 5-year NCR compared with SOND, albeit not significantly (91.4% vs 85.3%, P = .415). Multivariate analysis showed that END and stage were independent predictors of both NCR and OS.


END should be performed routinely in patients with early-stage oral tongue cancer, even in the presence of negative neck by CT scans and MRI. Cancer 2008. © 2008 American Cancer Society