Prospective randomized study of selective neck dissection versus observation for N0 neck of early tongue carcinoma




There are controversies on the benefits of elective neck dissection (END) for oral tongue carcinoma.


This is a prospective randomized study of elective selective I, II, III neck dissection versus observation for N0 neck of stage I to II oral tongue carcinoma. There were 35 patients on the observation arm and 36 patients on the END arm. The main outcome assessment parameters are node-related mortality and disease-specific survival rate.


There were 11 patients in the observed arm and 2 patients in the END arm who developed nodal recurrence alone without associated local or distant recurrence. All 13 patients were salvaged, and no patient died of nodal recurrence. The 5-year disease-specific survival rate was 87% for the observation arm and was 89% for the END arm; the 2% difference was not significant.


Observation may be an acceptable alternative to END if strict adherence to a cancer surveillance protocol is followed. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2009