Squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck (SCCHN) is a group of cancer arising from mucosal surfaces of the head and neck. Optimal management of SCCHN requires a multidisciplinary team of surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, nutritionist, and speech-language pathologists, due to the complexity of anatomical structure and importance of functional outcome. Human papilloma virus (HPV)-related SCCHN represents a distinct subset from HPV negative SCCHN which is associated with carcinogen exposure such as cigarette smoking, betel nut use and alcohol. HPV related SCCHN responds better to concurrent chemoradiation and has better overall prognosis, compared to HPV negative SCCHN. Radiation therapy has been introduced to the treatment of SCCHN, administered concurrently with systemic chemotherapy for locoregional SCCHN, as well as a palliative measure for recurrent and/or metastatic (R/M) SCCHN. Recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors have been shown to improve overall survival in R/M-SCCHN and have been incorporated into the standard of care. Combination approaches with immune therapy and targeted therapy for biomarker enriched population based on genomics are being actively investigated and will shape the future of SCCHN treatment.

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PubMed