The incidence of tongue cancer is increasing worldwide, and its aggressiveness remains high regardless of treatment. Genetic changes and the expression of abnormal proteins have been frequently reported in the case of head and neck cancers, but the little information that has been published concerning tongue tumours is often contradictory. This review will concentrate on the immunohistochemical expression of biomolecular markers and their relationships with clinical behaviour and prognosis. Most of these proteins are associated with nodal stage, tumour progression and metastases, but there is still controversy concerning their impact on disease-free and overall survival, and treatment response. More extensive clinical studies are needed to identify the patterns of molecular alterations and the most reliable predictors in order to develop tailored anti-tumour strategies based on the targeting of hypoxia markers, vascular and lymphangiogenic factors, epidermal growth factor receptors, intracytoplasmatic signalling and apoptosis.
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