Head and neck (HN) cancer is a significant health-care problem worldwide. One of the major prognostic factors for squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck (HNSCC) is metastasis. Early detection of lymph node metastasis and the identification of key protein targets for the treatment of metastatic HNSCC remain a challenge in current cancer research. Recent developments in molecular analysis technologies, such as DNA microarray and proteomic analyses, have provided powerful tools for the detection of metastatic signatures in primary tumors, opening new avenues toward the molecular diagnosis and prognosis of HN cancers. Evaluation of gene expression profiling identified in metastatic signatures has further facilitated the understanding of HNSCC metastasis at the molecular level. This review will focus on current exploration of metastatic proteins in HNSCC with an emphasis on molecular signatures of metastatic HNSCC in order to understand the functions of metastasis-related proteins involved in adhesion, invasion, dissemination, and survival, and to define appropriate biomarkers and targets for the treatment of this disease.
Keywords: DNA microarray, chemokine receptors, matrix metalloproteinases, tumors, mitogen-activated protein kinase
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