Head and neck cancer is driven by the accumulation of genomic abnormalities. Classically these were characterized by chromosomal alterations and TP53 mutations, but recent sequencing studies have improved our understanding of the full spectrum of mutations in this disease. While a few oncogenes are found to be altered (PIK3CA, HRAS, CCND1), the most frequent events inactivate tumor suppressor genes (TP53, CDKN2A). A surprising new finding was the identification of mutations in the gene NOTCH1. These mutations demonstrate that NOTCH1 is an important tumor suppressor gene in head and neck and other squamous tumors. This has shed new light on the Notch pathway in head and neck cancer progression, and clarified our need to learn more about this pathway in the progression and biology of head and neck cancer.
- Head and neck cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas