Patients with isolated cervical neck node metastases of adenocarcinoma or ULCC of unknown primary origin are rare and the diagnostic process to identify this subgroup requires a systemic work-up. In selected cases treatment should concentrate on (selective) neck dissection combined with radiotherapy to achieve a prolonged survival.
The clinical presentation of isolated cervical metastases of adenocarcinoma compared with ULCC is equivalent, with an overall median survival time of 25 months (confidence interval 21--29 months). Combined therapy was correlated with an increased and persistent regional control and was associated with longer duration of survival.
Over the past 24 years, we selected 15 out of 270 patients (6%) with isolated cervical lymph node metastases of adenocarcinoma (six) or ULCC (nine) of unknown primary origin. Diagnosis was made either by histology or by fine needle aspiration cytology. Treatment consisted of (selective) neck dissection and/or radiotherapy.
Cervical metastases of adenocarcinoma or undifferentiated large cell carcinoma (ULCC) (non-squamous cell carcinoma) of unknown primary origin are rare and often accompanied by distant metastases at multiple sites in the body. Nevertheless, in the past decades, several patients have presented in our clinic with isolated neck metastases of this type of malignancy. The aim of our study is to evaluate the clinical behaviour of these cases and to define the role of surgery and radiotherapy.