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Tumor Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 707–721 | Cite as

Targeted therapy in head and neck cancer

Research Article

Abstract

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) of multi-factorial etiopathogenesis is rising worldwide. Treatment-associated toxicity problems and treatment failure in advanced disease stages with conventional therapies have necessitated a focus on alternative strategies. Molecular targeted therapy, with the potential for increased selectivity and fewer adverse effects, hold promise in the treatment of HNSCC. In an attempt to improve outcomes in HNSCC, targeted therapeutic strategies have been developed. These strategies are focusing on the molecular biology of HNSCC in an attempt to target selected pathways involved in carcinogenesis. Inhibiting tumor growth and metastasis by focusing on specific protein or signal transduction pathways or by targeting the tumor microenvironment or vasculature are some of the new approaches. Targeted agents for HNSCC expected to improve the effectiveness of current therapy include EGFR inhibitors (Cetuximab, Panitumumab, Zalutumumab), EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (Gefitinib, Erloitinib), VEGFR inhibitors (Bevacizumab, Vandetanib), and various inhibitors of, e.g., Src-family kinase, PARP, proteasome, mTOR, COX, and heat shock protein. Moreover, targeted molecular therapy can also act as a complement to other existing cancer therapies. Several studies have demonstrated that the combination of targeting techniques with conventional current treatment protocols may improve the treatment outcome and disease control, without exacerbating the treatment related toxicities. Some of the targeted approaches have been proved as promising therapeutic potentials and are already in use, whereas remainder exhibits mixed result and necessitates further studies. Identification of predictive biomarkers of resistance or sensitivity to these therapies remains a fundamental challenge in the optimal selection of patients most likely to benefit from targeted treatment.

Keywords

Squamous cell carcinoma Targeted therapy Head & Neck Cancer 

Notes

Conflicts of interest

None.

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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit of Biomedical Radiation Sciences, Department of Radiology, Oncology and Radiation SciencesUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Unit of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, Department of Surgical SciencesUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Unit of Biomedical Radiation Sciences, Rudbeck LaboratoryUppsalaSweden

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