Head and neck cancers (HNCs) include a series of malignant tumors arising in epithelial tissues, typically oral cancer, laryngeal cancer, nasopharynx cancer and thyroid cancer. HNCs are important contributors to cancer incidence and mortality, leading to approximately 225,100 new patients and 77,500 deaths in China every year. Determination of the mechanisms of HNC carcinogenesis and progression is an urgent priority in HNC treatment. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are noncoding RNAs longer than 200 bps. lncRNAs have been reported to participate in a broad scope of biological processes, and lncRNA dysregulation leads to diverse human diseases, including cancer. In this review, we focus on lncRNAs that are dysregulated in HNCs, summarize the latest findings regarding the function and molecular mechanisms of lncRNAs in HNC carcinogenesis and progression, and discuss the clinical application of lncRNAs in HNC diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.
Keywords: HNC; clinical application; function; lncRNAs; mechanism.