adult screening programme
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
Read more about cancer of the mouth on the NHS website.
UK NSC screening recommendation
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.
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
- Association of British Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
- British Association of Surgical Oncology
- British Dental Association
- British Dental Health Foundation
- British Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Cancer Research UK
- Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK)
- Faculty of Public Health
- Mouth Cancer Foundation
- Northern Ireland Cancer Network
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Pathologists
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Royal College of Radiologists
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Society and College of Radiographers
- The British Association for Cancer Research
- The British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry