Head and neck cancers represent an important disease burden in most parts of the world due to a combination of lifestyle factors (primarily alcohol consumption and tobacco use) and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. In particular, the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is rapidly increasing in the USA and parts of Europe, for reasons that are not completely clear. The genomic characterization of head and neck cancers has also expanded enormously over the past two years due to the efforts of the Cancer Genome Atlas and other genomic groups. These findings may have important implications for more targeted treatment of head and neck cancers and potentially for early detection. Given that treatment-associated morbidity is high and survival has not greatly improved over recent decades, progress in these areas would be especially welcome.
In order to review new developments in the genetic and molecular epidemiology of head and neck cancers, IARC will organize an international meeting on emerging issues in head and neck cancer. The meeting will involve three over-arching topics: (i) HPV, (ii) genomic studies, and (iii) clinical advances and early detection, and will involve some of the leading international investigators from these three areas. The aims of the meeting will be to stimulate discussion between investigators from different research areas, identify important research questions, and perhaps help to develop new research proposals. The meeting will be open to all investigators with a research interest in head and neck cancers. It will also precede the 3rd Workshop on Emerging Oncogenic Viruses (4-8 June 2014), and participants may choose to attend both meetings.