Advances and perspectives in the molecular diagnosis of head and neck cancer

Wojciech K. Mydlarz, Patrick T. Hennessey, Joseph A. Califano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a debilitating and lethal disease. Despite significant advances in radiotherapy and surgical management, the 5-year survival rate for head and neck cancer has remained a dismal 50%. Advances in early detection have been made, but to improve patient outcomes better biomarkers and targeted therapeutic agents are needed. New biomarkers can improve early detection and provide data to optimize therapeutic strategy and patient survival, and could lead to potentially effective targeted therapies. To report the advances in the discovery of new biomarkers for HNSCC, and review the potential utility of biomarkers in the molecular diagnosis of HNSCC. A review of the English literature (PubMed) from 1980 to 2009. At present, the most widely accepted biomarker for HNSCC is high-risk HPV status. EGFR is another promising biomarker; however, further research is necessary to determine its prognostic benefit. A large number of promising biomarker candidates are now being evaluated, including epigenetic, expression and genomic-based markers. Studies to validate the sensitivity and specificity of these biomarkers in clinical samples from adequately powered prospective cohorts are needed for successful translation of these findings into potential molecular diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers for HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Opinion on Medical Diagnostics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA methylation
  • Diagnosis
  • Epidermal growth factor receptor
  • Epigenetics
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Loss of heterozygosity
  • MicroRNA
  • Molecular biology
  • Proteomics
  • RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical


Dive into the research topics of 'Advances and perspectives in the molecular diagnosis of head and neck cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this