Biological markers in head and neck cancer

M. Loyo, M. L. Poeta, J. A. Califano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


As our understanding of the molecular biology of cancer continues to grow, tumor biomarkers have began to emerge as potential clinical tools. In the present review we will discuss prominent biomarkers in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the etiology agent in a subgroup of non-smoker, young patients carrying a favorable prognosis. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression is commonly present in HNSCC that can be now be targeted by new drugs. The well-known tumor suppressor gene p53 is known to be altered in a vast majority of human cancers. In HNSCC, prognosis is adversely affected by loss of p53. Other markers such as epigenetic alterations, mitochondrial dysfunction, and loss of heterozygosity are addressed in the text. This review emphasizes evidence based diagnostic, staging, monitoring, prognostic, and treatment implications of these biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-131
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological markers
  • DNA
  • Epidermal growth factor
  • Epigenesis
  • Genetic
  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Loss of heterozygosity
  • Mitochondrial
  • Molecular biology
  • Receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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