BACKGROUND: Resection of the primary tumor followed by sentinel node biopsy (SNB) for the clinically N0 patient has been implemented in our Head and Neck University Center. The purpose of this study was to report on the outcome for patients with negative SNB. METHODS: From April 2007 to October 2009, 53 consecutive SNB-negative patients with oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) T1 to T2 were accrued. Follow-up was done continuously with the most recent examination in October 2011. The location of the sentinel lymph nodes was determined using dynamic and planar lymphoscintigraphy and single photon emission CT (SPECT)-CT. Intraoperatively, a hand-held gamma probe was applied. The harvested sentinel lymph nodes underwent histopathologic examination using step-serial sectioning at 150-μm intervals and immunohistochemistry. In the follow-up period, we observed and examined the SNB-negative patients for recurrence, morbidity, and mortality. RESULTS: Fifty-three SNB-negative patients were identified. Eight patients received adjuvant radiotherapy (RT) because of incomplete excision on the T site after the primary operation. An additional 2 patients received RT because of recurrences on the T site and N site. One patient died of recurrence on the T site and N site without having received additional treatment. Six patients died of nonrelated causes. During follow-up, 3 patients with both T-site and N-site recurrence were found. No case of isolated recurrence on the N site only was found. Thirty-six SNB-negative patients treated only surgically with a median follow-up of 37 months (range, 25-52 months) and no recurrence remain under active review. CONCLUSION: Only 3 of the SNB-negative patients subsequently developed recurrence in the T site and N site. The remaining 36 patients had no N-site recurrence at median follow-up of 37 months.
Head and Neck (print Edition), 2014, Vol 36, Issue 8, p. 1109-1112