Genetic determinants in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and their influence on global personalized medicine

Nicole L. Michmerhuizen, Andrew C. Birkeland, Carol R. Bradford, J. Chad Brenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


While sequencing studies have provided an improved understanding of the genetic landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), there remains a significant lack of genetic data derived from non-Caucasian cohorts. Additionally, there is wide variation in HNSCC incidence and mortality worldwide both between and within various geographic regions. These epidemiologic differences are in part accounted for by varying exposure to environmental risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, high risk human papilloma viruses and betel quid. However, inherent genetic factors may also play an important role in this variability. As limited sequencing data is available for many populations, the involvement of unique genetic factors in HNSCC pathogenesis from epidemiologically diverse groups is unknown. Here, we review current knowledge about the epidemiologic, environmental, and genetic variation in HNSCC cohorts globally and discuss future studies necessary to further our understanding of these differences. Long-term, a more complete understanding of the genetic drivers found in diverse HNSCC cohorts may help the development of personalized medicine protocols for patients with rare or complex genetic events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-200
Number of pages19
JournalGenes and Cancer
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Personalized medicine
  • Sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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