Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is one of the most frequently observed molecular alterations in many human malignancies, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). A growing body of evidence demonstrates the prime importance of the PI3K pathway at each stage of tumorigenesis, that is, tumor initiation, progression, recurrence, and metastasis. Expectedly, targeting the PI3K pathway yields some promising results in both preclinical studies and clinical trials for certain cancer patients. However, there are still many questions that need to be answered, given the complexity of this pathway and the existence of its multiple feedback loops and interactions with other signaling pathways. In this paper, we will summarize recent advances in the understanding of the PI3K pathway role in human malignancies, with an emphasis on HNSCC, and discuss the clinical applications and future direction of this field.
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