Factors Associated with Lymph Node Count in Head and Neck Cancer

Surgeons from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center carried-out a restrospective study on 247 patients with head and neck cancer to test whether age and undernutrition, factors known to negatively affect immune function, decreased lymph-node count in patients undergoing neck dissection. A common therapy for patients with head and neck cancer, is neck dissection, the surgical removal of lymph nodes via lymphadenectomy. A recently proposed quality metric for neck dissections is the number of lymph nodes that are successfully removed. This is because previous studies have shown a correlation between low lymph node count from neck dissection and poor oncological outcomes. Low lymph node count may be caused by surgical inadequacy and may depend on intrinsic factors affecting immunity, such as nutrition and infection status. In this study, all of the surgeries were performed by the same surgeons and analyzed by the same pathologists. Therefore, variability related to surgical technique and the facility was minimized.

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UT Southwestern Medical Center