This study aimed to compare patients with early oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) (tumor category [T] 1-2, node-negative, and no distant metastasis) treated with traditional elective neck dissection (ND) with those managed by sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) using survival and neck function and complications as end points.Sixteen institutions in Japan participated in the study (trial registration number: UMIN000006510). Patients of age ≥ 18 years with histologically confirmed, previously untreated OCSCC (Union for International Cancer Control TNM Classification of Malignant Tumors 7th edition T1-2, node-negative no distant metastasis), with ≥ 4 mm (T1) depth of invasion, were randomly assigned to undergo standard selective ND (ND group; n = 137) or SLNB-navigated ND (SLNB group; n = 134). The primary end point was the 3-year overall survival rate, with a 12% noninferiority margin; secondary end points included postoperative neck functionality and complications and 3-year disease-free survival. Sentinel lymph nodes underwent intraoperative multislice frozen section analyses for the diagnosis. Patients with positive sentinel lymph nodes underwent either one-stage or second-look ND.Pathologic metastasis-positive nodes were observed in 24.8% (34 of 137) and 33.6% (46 of 134) of patients in the ND and SLNB groups, respectively (P = .190). The 3-year overall survival in the SLNB group (87.9%; lower limit of one-sided 95% CI, 82.4) was noninferior to that in the ND group (86.6%; lower limit 95% CI, 80.9; P for noninferiority < .001). The 3-year disease-free survival rate was 78.7% (lower limit 95% CI, 72.1) and 81.3% (75.0) in the SLNB and ND groups, respectively (P for noninferiority < .001). The scores of neck functionality in the SLNB group were significantly better than those in the ND group.SLNB-navigated ND may replace elective ND without a survival disadvantage and reduce postoperative neck disability in patients with early-stage OCSCC.
Yasuhisa Hasegawa, Kiyoaki Tsukahara, Seiichi Yoshimoto, Kouki Miura, Junkichi Yokoyama, Shigeru Hirano, Hirokazu Uemura, Masashi Sugasawa, Tomokazu Yoshizaki, Akihiro Homma, Kazuaki Chikamatsu, Mikio Suzuki, Akihiro Shiotani, Takashi Matsuzuka, Naoyuki Kohno, Masakazu Miyazaki, Isao Oze, Keitaro Matsuo, Shigeru Kosuda, Yasushi Yatabe, HNCMM Research Group