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​​Oral cancers


Dentists play a vital role in saving lives

Dentists and their teams have a vital role to play in ensuring oral cancers are detected early and patients are informed about the risk factors.

With oral cancers, the key is spotting early on: early detection results in a roughly 90 per cent survival rate, compared to a 50 per cent survival rate for delayed diagnosis.


Our free oral cancer toolkit for dental professionals with CPD

We have developed an oral cancer toolkit in partnership with Cancer Research UK, to help dental health professionals identify and refer possible cases of oral cancer.




The toolkit includes information on the signs to look out for, how to respond, as well as possible risk factors and includes a CPD quiz, with 3 hours of verifiable CPD. 


Resources for all health professionals in Scotland

BDA Scotland's working group on oral cancers, chaired by Dr David Cross, has produced a resource pack for dentists and dental care professionals; this includes advice on how to carry out an examination of the mouth, oropharynx and neck for cancer, what lesions to refer, and an up-to-date guide on how to access OMFS services.


We've produced a short briefing on oral and oropharyngeal cancers, which we hope is useful for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and the whole healthcare team (particularly those working in primary care) to explain some of the key terms and definitions, epidemology, the risk factors and prevention.


What is the BDA doing?

Raising awareness


We helped to organise an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dentistry and Oral Health meeting on the topic of oral cancers, highlighting the devastating impact for patients and our work campaigning to raise public awareness of this disease.

Campaigning for gender-netural HPV vaccinations 

Alongside HPV Action, we've been campaigning for an extension of the HPV vaccine programme to include school-aged boys. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation made an interim statement in July 2017, and said it did not recommend extending the vaccination to boys, which we condemned. Following lobbying activity by the campaign group, the JCVI has now postponed its final recommendation pending further cost-effectiveness modelling studies and the outcome of an equality analysis by the Department of Health.


Protecting smoking cessation funding

We have called for smoking-cessation funding to be ring-fenced and highlighted that cutting local councils' public health budgets means that services which are not mandatory, such as support for smokers who want to quit, are under threat.

Action on plain packaging of cigarettes

We campaigned vigorously for action on plain packaging of cigarettes, alongside the Smokefree Action Coalition and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and we welcomed the news in 2015, that plain packaging was to be fast-tracked. Retailers have had to conform to the new guidance on plain packaging for tobacco products from 20 May 2016.


Read about our latest campaigning work in oral cancer in our blogs.


Top tips for detecting oral cancers

We offer a range of resources and advice on detecting oral cancers, including the occasional paper on prevention and early detection.


The BDA Library has copies of the latest research findings on oral cancers and a host of other topics to help you keep your knowledge up-to-date.

Watch Mike Lewis, Professor of Oral Medicine, giving his top tips for detecting mouth cancers in our short video:



CPD and seminars

We run seminars and courses each year on oral and mouth cancers.


Our online ilearn lectures are a great way of topping up your CPD and keeping you up to date, and can be done anytime:

Campaigning for better oral health

We support a range of initiatives focusing on oral and mouth cancers, and we encourage dentists and their teams to get involved. Each year, we support:



Resources for patients

Useful resources for patients can be found on the Oral Health Foundation's website.


Supporting you

Through policy and campaigning work, the BDA is able to ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level: join us.

You can also follow updates from the BDA on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.