If the nodes are involved, survival of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue is considerably reduced. Surgery remains the treatment of choice and, to define its role, we have reviewed 82 consecutive cases. Sixty-two cases (76%) were T1-2, and 46 patients (56%) had involved nodes. The cervical region II was the most often involved (n = 26). Occult nodal metastases were present in 12 cases. The extent of nodal spread and prognosis varies according to whether the body or the base of the tongue is involved. Lesions of the base with involved node should be treated by a selective posterolateral neck dissection, whilst in the case of a lesion of the body of the tongue, the dissection should be selective anterolateral. In lesions of the base, when there are no nodes involved, a prophylactic selective posterolateral neck dissection is recommended, whilst in the case of the lesions of the body, selective supraomohyoid neck dissection in T2-4 lesions is recommended.
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