Despite the consistent and significant advancements made in the treatment of head and neck
cancer (HNSCC), it remains one of the most devastating cancers globally killing approximately 350,000
people every year. Both clinical and basic research revealed that the transcription factor NF-κB, is constitutively
expressed in HNSCC and this persistent expression of NF-κB is the root cause of this disease
resulting in cancer cell proliferation, survival, invasion, metastases and poor survival of patients. Activation
of NF-κB is pragmatic in most of the premalignant dysplastic lesions indicating it as an early episode
in malignant transformation of this disease. Therefore, therapies designed to inhibit or block the
activity of NF-κB, would result in downregulation of key cellular processes involved in tumor growth
and its dissemination to metastatic sites. In addition, substantial evidences have revealed that NF-κB
plays an indispensable role in the development of both chemo and radiation resistance in HNSCC which
is identified to be a primary cause for the failure of therapies. This shows the potential of targeting NF-
κB in developing therapies against this disease. This review summarises the role of NF-κB in the
development of HNSCC and the potential of using NF-κB as a target to develop novel highly effective
therapies for this disease.
Keywords: NF-κB, IκBα, head and neck cancer, oral squamous cell carcinoma, cytokines, NF-κB inhibitors.
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