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HNO. 2008 Jun;56(6):594-602. doi: 10.1007/s00106-008-1720-3.

[Epigenetic aspects in carcinomas of the head and neck].

[Article in German]

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Abteilung Toxikologie und Krebsrisikofaktoren, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120, Heidelberg.


For years, head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) have been among the leading cancers worldwide. Despite considerable efforts, the 5-year survival rate for HNSCC has not changed significantly. To improve this situation, it is necessary to understand the fundamental biological processes leading to the disease and its progression. In addition to known genetic changes in HNSCC, molecular cytogenetic investigations have identified chromosomal regions of gains and losses, but many of the responsible candidate genes have yet to be identified. Furthermore, recent results indicate the importance of epigenetic modifications in HNSCC, such as DNA methylation. Several genes, including the tumor suppressor CDKN2A and other candidates such as DAPK1, MGMT, TIMP3, TCF21, and C/EBPalpha, have been found to harbor hypermethylated regulatory sequences that lead to reduced expression or gene silencing. Hypermethylation in such genes could be used not only as biomarkers for the early detection of HNSCC but also to improve prevention strategies and therapy outcomes.

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