Patterns of nodal relapse after surgery and postoperative radiation therapy for carcinomas of the major and minor salivary glands: What is the role of elective neck irradiation?

Allen M. Chen, Joaquin Garcia, Nancy Y. Lee, M. Kara Bucci, David W. Eisele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the incidence of nodal relapses from carcinomas of the salivary glands among patients with clinically negative necks in an attempt to determine the potential utility of elective neck irradiation (ENI). Methods and Materials: Between 1960 and 2004, 251 patients with clinically N0 carcinomas of the salivary glands were treated with surgery and postoperative radiation therapy. None of the patients had undergone previous neck dissection. Histology was: adenoid cystic (84 patients), mucoepidermoid (60 patients), adenocarcinoma (58 patients), acinic cell (21 patients), undifferentiated (11 patients), carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (7 patients), squamous cell (7 patients), and salivary duct carcinoma (3 patients); 131 patients (52%) had ENI. Median follow-up was 62 months (range, 3-267 months). Results: The 5- and 10-year actuarial estimates of nodal relapse were 11% and 13%, respectively. The 10-year actuarial rates of nodal failure were 7%, 5%, 12%, and 16%, for patients with T1, T2, T3, and T4 disease, respectively (p = 0.11). The use of ENI reduced the 10-year nodal failure rate from 26% to 0% (p = 0.0001). The highest crude rates of nodal relapse among those treated without ENI were found in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (67%), undifferentiated carcinoma (50%), adenocarcinoma (34%), and mucoepidermoid carcinoma (29%). There were no nodal failures observed among patients with adenoid cystic or acinic cell histology. Conclusion: ENI effectively prevents nodal relapses and should be used for select patients at high risk for regional failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-994
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Carcinoma
  • Elective neck irradiation
  • Head and neck
  • Salivary gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation

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