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Cancers 2017, 9(7), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers9070076

Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in the Pathogenesis and Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer

1
Section Experimental and Translational Head and Neck Oncology, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 400, Heidelberg 69120, Germany
2
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Ulm, Ulm 89075, Germany
3
Research Group Molecular Mechanisms of Head and Neck Tumors, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg 69120, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joëlle Roche
Received: 6 June 2017 / Revised: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 30 June 2017 / Published: 3 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in Cancer)
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Abstract

Head and neck cancer (HNC) is one of the most prevalent human malignancies worldwide, with a high morbidity and mortality. Implementation of interdisciplinary treatment modalities has improved the quality of life, but only minor changes in overall survival have been achieved over the past decades. Main causes for treatment failure are an aggressive and invasive tumor growth in combination with a high degree of intrinsic or acquired treatment resistance. A subset of tumor cells gain these properties during malignant progression by reactivating a complex program of epithelia-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is integral in embryonic development, wound healing, and stem cell behavior. EMT is mediated by a core set of key transcription factors, which are under the control of a large range of developmental signals and extracellular cues. Unraveling molecular principles that drive EMT provides new concepts to better understand tumor cell plasticity and response to established as well as new treatment modalities, and has the potential to identify new drug targets for a more effective, less toxic, and individualized therapy of HNC patients. Here, we review the most recent findings on the clinical relevance of a mesenchymal-like phenotype for HNC patients, including more rare cases of mucosal melanoma and adenoid cystic carcinoma. View Full-Text
Keywords: epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition; head and neck cancer; biomarkers epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition; head and neck cancer; biomarkers
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Thierauf, J.; Veit, J.A.; Hess, J. Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in the Pathogenesis and Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer. Cancers 2017, 9, 76.

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