Squamous Cell Cancers: A Unified Perspective on Biology and Genetics

Cancer Cell. 2016 May 9;29(5):622-637. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2016.04.004.


Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) represent the most frequent human solid tumors and are a major cause of cancer mortality. These highly heterogeneous tumors arise from closely interconnected epithelial cell populations with intrinsic self-renewal potential inversely related to the stratified differentiation program. SCCs can also originate from simple or pseudo-stratified epithelia through activation of quiescent cells and/or a switch in cell-fate determination. Here, we focus on specific determinants implicated in the development of SCCs by recent large-scale genomic, genetic, and epigenetic studies, and complementary functional analysis. The evidence indicates that SCCs from various body sites, while clinically treated as separate entities, have common determinants, pointing to a unified perspective of the disease and potential new avenues for prevention and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects