The indications for elective treatment of the neck in cancer of the major salivary glands
To define the indications for elective neck treatment, the cases of 474 previously untreated patients were reviewed who had locally confined major salivary gland cancers treated between 1939 and 1982. Clinically positive nodes were present in 14% (67 of 474). Overall, clinically occult, pathologically positive nodes occurred in 12% (47 of 407). By univariate analysis, several factors appeared to predict the risk of occult metastases; however, multivariate analysis revealed that only size and grade were significant risk factors. Tumors 4 cm or more in size had a 20% (32 of 164) risk of occult metastases compared with a 4% (nine of 220) risk for smaller tumors (P less than 0.00001). High-grade tumors (regardless of histologic type) had a 49% (29 of 59) risk of occult metastases compared with a 7% (15 of 221) risk for intermediate-grade or low-grade tumors (P less than 0.00001). In view of the low frequency of occult metastases in the entire group, routine elective treatment of the neck is not recommended. High-grade tumors and larger tumors have a high rate of occult neck metastases, and treatment should be considered in this group.