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Biomarkers predicting chemotherapy response in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2015

B Cosway*
Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
V Paleri
Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
J Wilson
Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Address for correspondence: Mr Benjamin Cosway, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN, UK E-mail:



Biomarkers are increasingly being used in many cancers to select patients for oncological treatment paradigms based on their inherent genetic properties. However, in head and neck cancers, there are no personalised therapies available outside the context of a clinical trial. A number of studies suggest there are intrinsic tumour properties of head and neck cancers that affect their response to chemotherapeutic agents. This paper aimed to review their evidence base.


A narrative review was conducted following a search of the PubMed database.

Results and conclusion:

The review identified a number of biomarkers predicting response to chemotherapy in head and neck cancers. The paper discusses these in detail, and explores where future research could be directed in order to deliver personalised therapies for patients with head and neck cancers.

Review Articles
Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2015 

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