Lymph node density—Prognostic value in head and neck cancer


  • This work was presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Miami, Florida, 2011.



The purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic value of lymph node density in head and neck cancer.


We utilized a prospective, multicenter database of 223 patients with head and neck cancer to identify patients who underwent lymph node dissection before chemoradiation to assess the prognostic significance of lymph node density.


In 38 patients who met study criteria, lymph node density ≤0.20 predicted for improved overall survival (OS; 79% vs 50%; p = .04). Lymph node density was also associated with a trend toward improved 3-year locoregional control (96% vs 79%; p = .14) and distant metastasis–free survival (93% vs 78%; p = .13). In the patients with treatment failure distantly or locoregionally, that failure was earlier in patients with lymph node density >0.20 than in patients with lymph node density ≤0.20 (median, 12.7 months vs 5.2 months; p = .004).


Our data suggest that lymph node density predicts for OS in patients with head and neck cancer and that the difference in OS may be because of differences in time to failure. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 36: 266–272, 2014