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Squamous-Cell Carcinoma of the Tonsil

AMA Arch Surg. 1959;79(3):404-409. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1959.04320090052008.
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There are few statements in current medical literature that are more obviously repetitious than "surgery has nothing to offer in carcinoma of the tonsil." This is based on two premises. The first is that operative mortality is high, and the second, that the involved cervical lymph nodes are not accessible to adequate excision. The argument has been further advanced by a statement that "in the overwhelming majority of cases" the cervical nodes associated with cancer of the tonsil "react rather favorably to radiotherapy."1

The implication has been that anatomic and histologic characteristics of the area are unique to the extent that any consideration for surgery is unwarranted. Actually, the advances in anesthesia, understanding of the significance of nutrition, and the use of antibiotics have made possible the adequate surgical resection of this site of cancer with the same opportunities for success as have been experienced with other intraoral surgery.


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