alexa Postoperative radiotherapy in head and neck carcinoma with extracapsular lymph node extension and or positive resection margins: a comparative study.
Diabetes & Endocrinology

Diabetes & Endocrinology

Journal of Thyroid Disorders & Therapy

Author(s): Huang DT, Johnson CR, SchmidtUllrich R

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In head and neck carcinoma, the finding of extracapsular lymph node extension and/or positive resection margins portends poor locoregional control and survival. The effectiveness of postoperative radiotherapy in these patients has been controversial due to insufficient studies comparing resected patients with those also receiving radiation. Between 1982 and 1988, 441 radical head and neck resections were performed at the Medical College of Virginia. Pathologic review of these cases identified 125 with extracapsular lymph node extension and/or positive resection margins. Of these, 43 had extracapsular lymph node extension only, 24 had both positive resection margins and extracapsular lymph node extension, and 58 demonstrated positive resection margins only. Surgery alone was performed in 71 of these patients while 54 cases received surgery and postoperative radiotherapy, (combined modality treatment) CMT. Radiotherapy doses ranged from 50 to 70 Gy. The surgery alone and combined modality treatment groups were comparable with respect to the distribution of positive resection margins and extracapsular lymph node extension. Slightly more CMT patients had clinical T4 disease compared with the surgery alone group (22% vs 14%). Slightly fewer combined modality treatment patients had clinical N0 necks than the surgery alone group (20% vs 29%). Multivariate analysis was performed with the variables T, N stages, radiotherapy, margin status, primary tumor sites, microscopic and macroscopic extracapsular lymph node extension, number of positive lymph nodes, number of nodes with extracapsular lymph node extension. Locoregional control was maintained at 5 years in 59% of the combined modality treatment group and 31% of the surgery alone group (p.0001). Subgroup analysis likewise reveals significant differences favoring the combined modality treatment group for positive resection margins only (49% vs 41%; p = .04), extracapsular lymph node extension only (66% vs 31%; p = .03) and extracapsular lymph node extension+positive resection margins (68% vs 0%; p = .001). Adjusted survival also shows a significant benefit of combined modality treatment vs surgery alone for the entire group (72% vs 41%; p = .001). Multivariate analysis revealed that the use of radiotherapy is a strongly favorable variable for local control and adjusted survival. Macroscopic extracapsular lymph node penetration and positive resection margins are unfavorable independent variables for local control. T-stage is the only variable predicting local control in the combined modality group. Extracapsular extension remains an important negative prognostic variable for survival in both treatment groups. In conclusion, this study demonstrates a locoregional control and survival benefit for postoperative radiotherapy in patients with the high risk pathologic findings of extracapsular lymph node extension and positive resection margins.

This article was published in Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys and referenced in Journal of Thyroid Disorders & Therapy

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