Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas arise from the mucosa of the upper aerodigestive tract and is often driven by risk factors like tobacco and alcohol consumption. Most of the time patients present with locally advanced stages and the outcome is poor, despite recent advances in multi-modality treatment. The epidemiology of the disease has changed over the last decade with the introduction of a separate clinical entity; Human Papillomavirus (HPV) associated head and neck cancer. The tumorigenesis is different from that of tobacco and alcohol-driven malignancies. These tumors have a better response to treatment owing to their inherent genetic makeup and carry an excellent prognosis. The current school of thought is to reduce the long-term morbidities associated with various treatment modalities, as these patients tend to survive longer. The best management of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer is under active investigation.
Part of the book: Pharynx