In recent years, precision medicine and genomics have become key topics among surgeons and researchers seeking to understanding head and neck cancers. A delicate interaction between host immune response, oncogenic viruses and proteins, and regulatory genes drives the carcinogenesis. Mutagenic agents cause irreversible cell injury which leads to malignant transformation of preinvasive cell populations. For nearly a century, toxins such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, or chronic traumatic injury (e.g., Marjolin's ulcer) have been implicated in the development of head and neck cancer. There is a modern shift from these classically held beliefs, however, toward understanding host genetic polymorphisms which may ultimately contribute to carcinogenesis to a greater degree than extrinsic injury. Eludicating the causal relationship between the genetics of oral cancer development and the treatment of the tumors themselves is critical to advancing the field of head and neck oncology and is a key focus of federal and foundation-based funding agencies.