To improve management of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients, we need to increase our understanding of carcinogenesis, to identify biomarkers, and drug targets. This study aimed to identify novel biomarkers by providing transcriptomics profiles of matched primary tumors, lymph node metastasis, and non-malignant tissue of 20 HNSCC patients as well as by bioinformatic analyses of a TCGA HNSCC cohort, comprising 554 patients. We provide cancer cell signaling networks differentially expressed in tumors versus metastases, such as mesenchymal–epithelial transition, and structural integrity networks. As a proof of principle study, we exploited the data sets and performed functional analyses of a novel cytokeratin, cytokeratin24 (cKRT24), which had not been described as biomarker for tumors before. Survival analysis revealed that low cKRT24 expression correlated with poor overall survival in HNSCC. Experimentally, downregulation of cKRT24 in primary tumors, metastases, and HNSCC cell lines was verified on mRNA and protein level. Cloning and ectopic overexpression of cKRT24 not only affected viability and growth of HNSSC cell lines, but also inhibited tumor growth in murine xenograft studies. We conclude that cKRT24 functions as a tumor suppressor in HNSCC, and may serve as an additional prognostic biomarker and novel target to support current HNSCC treatments.