Unraveling molecular mechanisms of head and neck cancer

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2022 Oct:178:103778. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2022.103778. Epub 2022 Aug 4.


Malignancies that develop from mucosal epithelium of the upper aerodigestive tract are known as head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Heterogeneity, late stage diagnosis and high recurrence rate are big hurdles in head and neck treatment regimen. Presently, the biomarkers available for diagnosis and prognosis of HNSCC are based on smoking as the major risk habit. This review shed light on the differential environment of HNSCC in smokeless tobacco consuming Indian patients. Frequent mutation in genes involved in DNA repair pathway (p53), cell proliferation (PIK3CA, HRAS) and cell death (CASP8, FADD) are common in western population. On the contrary, the genes involved in metastasis (MMPs, YAP1), lymphocyte proliferation (TNFRSF4, CD80), cell-cell adhesion (DCC, EDNRB), miRNA processing (DROSHA) and inflammatory responses (TLR9, IL-9) are mutated in Indian HNSCC patients. Gene ontology enrichment analysis highlighted that responses to chemical stimulus, immune pathways and stress pathways are highly enriched in Indian patients.

Keywords: GB-OSCC; HNSCC; HPV; OSCC; Single nucleotide variation; Smokeless tobacco; Somatic mutation; TSCC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-9 / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs*
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-9
  • MicroRNAs
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases