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Oral cancer

Dentists and their teams have a vital role to play in ensuring oral cancers are detected early and we campaign to raise awareness and provide essential resources for dental professionals.

Supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month in November

We encourage dentists and teams to support the Oral Health Foundation’s Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign each November, by raising awareness of oral cancers with your patients.


New cases of mouth cancer have risen to a record high of 8,846, this has increased by 34% in the last ten years.


Early detection is the key to improved survival rates for those contracting oral cancers, and we are concerned that mouth cancer referrals have fallen by 60% since the first UK lockdown in March 2020. This could lead to a potentially devastating rise in mortality.


Resources for dentists and teams

The following resources are available for dental professionals to further your knowledge on detection and to help you educate your patients on what to look out for.


Toolkit and CPD: Free oral cancer toolkit for dental professionals

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.


Blogs and features

Advice on oral cancer referrals in Scotland

Scotland has seen an increase in the incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the last 30 years and head and neck cancer incidence rates are significantly higher in Scotland than the UK average.
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.


What is the BDA doing?

We continue to campaign to raise awareness of oral cancers and HPV vaccinations.


Campaigning for gender-neutral HPV vaccinations

Following our successful campaign with HPV Action, in 2018 we welcomed the Government's announcement that all 12 and 13-year-olds in England will be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). After that success, devolved administrations in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland committed to expanding their vaccination programmes of 12-13 year old girls, to also include boys following recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).


However, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that this programme has not been able to proceed as planned. We are concerned that school closures during the lockdown period have had an impact on the delivery of the HPV vaccination.


NHS England has assured us that this programme is still a priority and at least one dose of the vaccine will be offered to all who are eligible; we will continue to monitor its progress.




Resources to help you detect oral cancers