The increasing understanding of tumor biology has opened the door to a new class of biological agents directed at specific molecular targets in the treatment of squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. These targeted agents present the opportunity to more effectively attack the crucial cellular pathways contributing to tumor growth and survival, while minimizing toxicity. Cetuximab, which targets epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor signaling, was the first such biological agent to be proven effective in head and neck squamous cell cancers. Currently, there are dozens of targeted agents at various stages of testing for use in the treatment of head and neck cancers. In this article, we review strategies aimed at key pathways, including EGF receptor signaling, the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) pathway, and PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research