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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014 May 1;89(1):38-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.09.034.

Genetic susceptibility to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Head and Neck Surgery and Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany and Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, HELIOS Hanseklinikum Stralsund, Stralsund, Germany.
Department of Otolaryngology, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain; Instituto Universitario de Oncología del Principado de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain.
ENT Clinic, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Electronic address:


Head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, and its incidence is growing. Although environmental carcinogens and carcinogenic viruses are the main etiologic factors, genetic predisposition obviously plays a risk-modulating role, given that not all individuals exposed to these carcinogens experience the disease. This review highlights some aspects of genetic susceptibility to HNSCC: among others, genetic polymorphisms in biotransformation enzymes, DNA repair pathway, apoptotic pathway, human papillomavirus-related pathways, mitochondrial polymorphisms, and polymorphism related to the bilirubin-metabolized pathway. Furthermore, epigenetic variations, familial forms of HNSCC, functional assays for HNSCC risk assessment, and the implications and perspectives of research on genetic susceptibility in HNSCC are discussed.

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