During the 2019 annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) the most recent advances in recurrent/metastatic (R/M) and locoregionally advanced (LA) squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) as well as nasopharyngeal carcinoma were discussed. In R/M HNSCC the safety and efficacy of monalizumab alone and in combination with cetuximab was assessed and the ELAN trials tried to assess the management of elderly HNSCC patients. In LA HNSCC the efficacy of Debio 1143 in combination with chemoradiotherapy as well as the dominance of cisplatin over cetuximab in association with radiotherapy were studied. In nasopharyngeal carcinoma, results were presented on the benefit of radiotherapy to chemotherapy with cisplatin and fluorouracil. Finally, Bossi et al. demonstrated that in non-endemic countries, patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma have the same survival figures and prognostic factors as patients in endemic areas.