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Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Video

See a step-by-step video explaining what happens during an oral cancer examination.

What is Oral Cancer?

Approximately 35,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with this largely preventable type of cancer that affects the mouth and/or part of the throat. Most oral cancers are related to tobacco use, alcohol use, or both. You can help reduce your risk for oral cancer by avoiding all tobacco products and drinking alcohol only in moderation.

Early Detection

Because oral cancer can spread quickly, early detection is important. An oral cancer exam can identify early signs of this disease. The exam is quick and painless, and can be done during your regular dental check-up. Be sure to tell your dentist if you notice persistent changes in your mouth or throat, such as sores, swelling, or numbness, or if you have difficulty eating or swallowing.

To learn more about oral cancer and its warning signs and symptoms, please see:


For Health Professionals

For Patients and the Public

  • Oral Cancer
    Pamphlet that describes the risk factors, signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and the importance of detecting the disease in its early stages.
  • The Oral Cancer Exam
    Step-by-step description of the oral cancer examination so patients know what to expect. 
  • What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer
    For people who have been diagnosed with oral cancer, this brochure includes information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer, along with definitions of selected medical terms and resource information.
  • Oral Cancer
    A fact sheet that describes current and future efforts to improve detection and treatment of oral cancers.

NIDCR's "Oral Cancer: What African American Men Need to Know" Campaign 

Clinical Trials

News Releases and Articles


Other Government Information

Related Oral Health Topics

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This page last updated: February 11, 2013