There are several disorders that might develop in the aerodigestive tract including disorders in the airway (pharynx & larynx), pulmonary tract (trachea, bronchi & lungs) and upper digestive tract (esophagus). Aerodigestive disorders can be congenital, developmental or acquired and the development can be supported by individual behaviour like smoking and drinking or by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Cancer of the aerodigestive tract might be one of the most common disorders at these sites and beside the improving diagnostic and therapeutic tools the prognosis remains poor. Squamous cell carcinomas like head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) represent the majority of cancers of the aerodigestive tract but there are also other histological diagnoses like mucosal melanomas or salivary gland tumors which occur less frequently. HNSCCs usually develop in the tissue of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx or hypopharynx. The main treatments in these areas are radio- and chemotherapy as well as surgical intervention. Since the stage of the tumors has a major influence on the prognosis, the identification of reliable prognostic markers and the use of suitable tools for diagnosis is crucial.