Tumors of the head and neck comprise an important neoplasia group, the incidence of which is increasing in many parts of the world. Recent advances in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for these lesions have yielded novel molecular targets, uncovered signal pathway dominance, and advanced early cancer detection. Proteomics is a powerful tool for investigating the distribution of proteins and small molecules within biological systems through the analysis of different types of samples. The proteomic profiles of different types of cancer have been studied, and this has provided remarkable advances in cancer understanding. This review covers recent advances for head and neck cancer; it encompasses the risk factors, pathogenesis, proteomic tools that can help in understanding cancer, and new proteomic findings in this type of cancer. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.