Prophylactic irradiation of the clinically normal neck in patients with squamous cell cancers of the head and neck is an issue for debate. However, according to Daniel Rabuzzi, MD, of the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, the idea is beginning to gain more support.
At the recent meeting of the American Society for Head and Neck Surgery in Los Angeles, Rabuzzi reported on an uncontrolled retrospective study of 139 patients with clinically normal necks who were given prophylactic irradiation. Cervical adenopathy developed in only five when the primary lesion was controlled. He added that more than half of the tumors were advanced.
"The benefit of prophylactic neck irradiation also is reflected in the absent mortality and negligible morbidity associated with such treatment," Rabuzzi continued. He noted that there were no instances of cosmetic or functional deformities from the cervical irradiation itself, except for occasional transient xerostomia.