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Legal issues in radical and modified neck dissection

Medico-legal cases do not commonly arise from surgery for malignant neck glands. This is largely because the majority of patients treated in this way are aware that they have advanced cancer, that their operations carry risks and inevitable morbidity, and that their prospects of cure are guarded. It is possible that a case might arise related to the morbidity following a classical radical neck dissection, but, in my view, all such cases are entirely defensible. The choice between a radical and a modified neck dissection is one for the surgeon at the present time. Cases arising in failure to cure advanced head and neck cancer are not likely to succeed in view of the generally poor outlook of those cases where a tumour has spread to the cervical lymphatics.