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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Mar;17(3):490-9. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2714.

Genetic polymorphisms and head and neck cancer outcomes: a review.

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Community Medicine Residency Program and Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients have variable prognoses even within the same clinical stage and while receiving similar treatments. The number of studies of genetic polymorphisms as prognostic factors of HNC outcomes is growing. Candidate polymorphisms have been evaluated in DNA repair, cell cycle, xenobiotic metabolism, and growth factor pathways. Polymorphisms of XRCC1, FGFR, and CCND1 have been consistently associated with HNC survival in at least two studies, whereas most of the other polymorphisms have either conflicting data or were from single studies. Heterogeneity and lack of description of patient populations and lack of accounting for multiple comparisons were common problems in a significant proportion of studies. Despite a large number of exploratory studies, large replication studies in well-characterized HNC populations are warranted.

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