Cancer Stem Cells in Oropharyngeal Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Aug 2;13(15):3878. doi: 10.3390/cancers13153878.


Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC), which is a common type of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), is associated with tobacco and alcohol use, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Underlying mechanisms and as a result prognosis of the HPV-positive and HPV-negative OPC patients are different. Like stem cells, the ability of self-renewal and differentiate, cancer stem cells (CSCs) have roles in tumor invasion, metastasis, drug resistance, and recurrence after therapy. Research revealed their roles to some extent in all of these processes but there are still many unresolved points to connect to CSC-targeted therapy. In this review, we will focus on what we currently know about CSCs of OPC and limitations of our current knowledge. We will present perspectives that will broaden our understanding and recent literature which may connect to therapy.

Keywords: CSC markers; cancer stem cells (CSCs); human papillomavirus (HPV); oropharyngeal cancer (OPC); prognosis; tumor heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Review