Melatonin is a molecule secreted by the pineal gland; it is an important regulator of sleep and circadian rhythms. Through multiple interrelated mechanisms, melatonin exhibits various inhibitory properties at different stages of tumor progression. Many studies have explored the oncostatic effects of melatonin on hormone-dependent tumors. In this review, we highlight recent advances in understanding the effects of melatonin on the development of head and neck cancers, including molecular mechanisms identified through experimental and clinical observations. Because melatonin exerts a wide range of effects, melatonin may influence many mechanisms that influence the development of cancer. These include cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, extracellular matrix remodeling through matrix metalloproteinases, and genetic polymorphism. Thus, the evidence discussed in this article will serve as a basis for basic and clinical research to promote the use of melatonin for understanding and controlling the development of head and neck cancers.
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