adult screening programme

Oral Cancer

The term oral cancer refers to cancers which develop in a part of the mouth, such as:

  • the surface of the tongue
  • the inside of the cheeks
  • the roof of the mouth (palate)
  • the lips
  • gums

Read more about cancer of the mouth on the NHS website.

UK NSC screening recommendation Based on the last UK NSC review of this condition that occurred in November 2020.

Screening is not currently recommended for this condition.

Population screening for oral cancer is not recommended for several reasons.

Firstly, oral cancer develops from abnormal tissue in the mouth, but only 5% of abnormalities become cancers. It is not possible to predict which ones will become a cancer and which will not.

There is not enough evidence to know how well existing tests would perform in a general population.

Finally, it is not clear what is the best treatment to use in people that are detected by screening.

This was confirmed by the 2020 evidence map, which did not find sufficient new information to justify performing a full evidence review. This will be explored again in 3 years, or sooner if significant evidence should be published before this time.

Supporting documents from the 2020 review

UK NSC Evidence map oral cancer October 2020
This document investigates whether a more detailed review can be conducted based on the available evidence.

UK NSC Cover Sheet Oral Cancer 2020 10 28 REDACTED
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.

Review cycle

Date previous review completed: 2020

Next review estimated to be completed: 2023 to 2024.

To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.

Organisations interested in Oral Cancer

These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.

List of organisations

If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for organisation can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.