Significance: Head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is a complex disease characterized by high genetic and metabolic heterogeneity. Radiation therapy (RT) alone or combined with systemic chemotherapy is widely used for treatment of HNSCC as definitive treatment or as adjuvant treatment after surgery. Antibodies against epidermal growth factor receptor are used in definitive or palliative treatment. Recent Advances: Emerging targeted therapies against other proteins of interest as well as programmed cell death protein 1 and programmed death-ligand 1 immunotherapies are being explored in clinical trials.
Critical issues: The disease heterogeneity, invasiveness, and resistance to standard of care RT or chemoradiation therapy continue to constitute significant roadblocks for treatment and patients' quality of life (QOL) despite improvements in treatment modality and the emergence of new therapies over the past two decades.
Future directions: As reviewed here, alterations in redox metabolism occur at all stages of HNSCC management, providing opportunities for improved prevention, early detection, response to therapies, and QOL. Bioinformatics and computational systems biology approaches are key to integrate redox effects with multiomics data from cells and clinical specimens and to identify redox modifiers or modifiable target proteins to achieve improved clinical outcomes. Antioxid. Redox Signal.
Keywords: HNSCC; head and neck; oxidative stress; redox; squamous cancer.