Predictive Biomarkers and Targeted Therapies in Head and Neck Cancer

  • Felipe D’Almeida Costa
  • Fernando Augusto SoaresEmail author


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, the most common histologic type of head and neck cancer (HNC), represents the sixth most frequent human cancer. Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol are its classic leading causes. In the last decade, it was discovered that the human papillomavirus infection plays a significant role as a risk factor for HNC, especially in the oropharynx. There are many therapeutic approaches for patients with HNC, and choosing the appropriate treatment is a challenge. In this field, discovery and recognition of new biomarkers may allow physicians to be more precise. This chapter discusses relevant biomarkers for HNC therapeutic strategies, including HPV status, EBV infection, EGFR, and checkpoint inhibition, besides other markers still under investigation. In the era of personalized medicine, the role of targeted therapies and biological markers is well established and are evolving quickly in the head and neck oncology field. There are already many drugs that target known molecules and biomarkers that have shown some level of evidence in terms of predicting response, especially for immunotherapy.


Head and neck cancer Squamous cell carcinoma Biomarker Personalized therapy Prognosis Treatment response Human papillomavirus Epstein-Barr virus Epidermal growth factor receptor Immunotherapy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felipe D’Almeida Costa
    • 1
  • Fernando Augusto Soares
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anatomic PathologyA.C. Camargo Cancer CenterSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of PathologyRede D’Or Hospital NetworkSão PauloBrazil

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