Conservative Neck Dissection in Oral Cancer Patients: a 5 Year Retrospective Study in Malaysia

  • Balasundram, Sathesh ;
  • Mustafa, Wan Mahadzir Wan ;
  • Ip, Jolene ;
  • Adnan, Tassha Hilda ;
  • Supramaniam, Premaa
  • Published : 2012.08.31


Objective: The impact of ablative oral cancer surgery was studied, with particular reference to recurrence and nodal metastasis, to assess survival probability and prognostic indicators and to elucidate if ethnicity influences the survival of patients. Methods: Patients who underwent major ablative surgery of the head and neck region with neck dissection were identified and clinical records were assessed. Inclusion criteria were stage I-IV oral and oropharyngeal malignancies necessitating resection with or without radiotherapy from 2004 to 2009. All individuals had a pre-operative assessment prior to the surgery. The post operative assessment period ranged from 1 year to 5 years. Survival distributions were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier curves. Results: 87 patients (males:38%; females:62%) were included in this study, with an age range of 21-85 years. Some 78% underwent neck dissections while 63% had surgery and radiotherapy. Nodal recurrence was detected in 5.7% while 20.5% had primary site recurrence within the study period. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis revealed that the median survival time was 57 months. One year overall survival (OS) rate was 72.7% and three year overall survival rate dropped to 61.5%. On OS analysis, the log-rank test showed a significant difference of survival between Malay and Chinese patients (Bonferroni correction p=0.033). Recurrence-free survival (RFS) analysis revealed that 25% of the patients have reached the event of recurrence at 46 months. One year RFS rate was 85.2% and the three year survival rate was 76.1%. In the RFS analysis, the log-rank test showed a significant difference in the event of recurrence and nodal metastasis (p<0.001). Conclusion: Conservative neck is effective, in conjunction with postoperative radiotherapy, for control of neck metastases. Ethnicity appears to influence the survival of the patients, but a prospective trial is required to validate this.


Nodal metastasis;oral squamous cell carcinoma;neck dissection;recurrence;Malaysia


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