Oral Cancer Toolkit

Improve your ability to prevent and detect oral cancer


Oral cancer

In this video, Dentist Mohsan Ahmad and GP Denis Colligan discuss a range of issues, including how to talk to your patients about oral cancer, the referral process, safety netting, risk factors and prevention.

Scroll through the chapters to find topics of interest and/or watch the video from start to finish.


When a lesion is present but referral is not indicated, ensure that the patient knows to come back with any red flag symptoms

Oral, head and neck examination

Find out how to perform a patient examination in a few simple steps.


Cancer Research UK would like to acknowledge the following clinicians for their invaluable input into the development of the Oral Cancer Toolkit: Professor Richard Shaw, Professor Peter Brennan, Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya, Dr Afsana Safa, Mr Craig Wales, Professor Mark McGurk, Professor Crispian Scully, Dr Nigel Carter, Dr Bijay Rajlawat and Dr Caroline McCarthy.

Medical knowledge and the legislative framework are constantly changing. As new information becomes available changes in treatment, procedures, equipment and the use of drugs is necessary. The authors and editors have, as far as it is possible, taken care to ensure that the information given in this module is accurate and up to date at the time it was created. However, users are strongly advised to confirm that the information complies with current legislation and standards of practice.

Date of preparation: October 2018

Patient case studies

To learn more about diagnosing and referring oral cancer, read case studies from Richard Shaw, Professor of Head and Neck Surgery, University of Liverpool and Aintree University Hospital NHS Trust.

View case studies

Oral cancer risk factors

Some of the risk factors associated with oral cancer include:

  • age
  • tobacco use (smoking and chewing)
  • betel quid (areca nut) use
  • alcohol consumption
  • human papillomavirus infection

What do you think?

Your comments will help to improve this toolkit.