Background. The benefit of postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) for early squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue (SCCOT) with pathologic N1 disease remains unclear. Methods. The medical records of all patients with pathologic T1-2/N0-1 SCCOT who underwent wide excision of the primary tumor and neck dissection between 1980 and 2002 were reviewed. Results. There were 59 patients analyzed, including 28 patients with and 31 patients without PORT. The 5-year disease-free survival rates were 81.2% and 53% for the patients with and without PORT, respectively (p = .03). The overall 5-year survival rates were 77% and 70.5% for the patients with and without PORT, respectively (p = .36). Multivariate analyses showed that PORT had the only protective effect (p = .01) and extracapsular spread (ECS) was the only significantly adverse factor for locoregional recurrence (p = .03). Conclusions. Approximately one-third of the patients who received only surgery had locoregional recurrence. PORT significantly improved the disease-free survival.
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