Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a malignancy that exhibit high incidence and mortality rates. Although many strategies have been used in the HNSCC treatment, the overall survival rate is around 50%. The development of local recurrences is the main reason for treatment failure. The presence of metastatic disease in cervical lymph nodes is an important prognostic factor and influence in the choice of the therapeutic strategy to be adopted. Thus, the identification of molecular markers able to select patients who are at high risk for the presence of lymph node metastasis and/or locoregional recurrence can be of great value. Recent studies have shown that microRNAs can be regulators of the tumor metastasis process by the activation of various signaling pathways involved in this process being useful in diagnosis, determination of disease prognosis and prediction of therapeutic response. This study, therefore, aims to identify microRNAs differentially expressed in SCC of the tongue associated with the presence of lymph node metastases. Furthermore, we will integrate this data with the results of global gene expression (mRNA) analysis. In this way, we intend to identify possible targets of these microRNAs, contributing to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in metastasis, which could lead to more sensitive diagnostic tools, the identification of more effective prognostic markers, or even the development of new therapeutic approaches.
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