Overview

Oral cancer is the sixth most form of common cancer in the world with a 5-year survival rate of less than 50%.1 The most common causes of oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol, factors that can be controlled. Increasingly the Human Papilloma Virus 16 (HPV16) is a recognized cause of carcinomas in the oropharynx and base of tongue, a form of cancer showing a significant increase in the past two decades. The presentation of oral cancer is typically as an ulcer, red patch or white lesion. It is important for the dental health care provider to inspect the mouth for suspicious lesions and take a biopsy to establish the diagnosis. Since smaller oral cancers have a better prognosis than larger ones, early detection plays an essential role in reducing the extent of treatment, the treatment associated morbidity and death rate from the disease. This course presents the important general features of oral cancer, its causes, the clinical presentation and how the disease is managed.