The UK NSC recommendation on Oral Cancer screening in adults

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed January 2016
Next review due in 2018/19
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Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

  • it is clear that oral cancer develops from growths in the mouth, most often in the form of visible white lesions. Although these growths are indicators, only 5% of them will become cancerous. It is not yet known how to tell the cancerous from the non-cancerous ones


  • a reliable test has not been identified. There is no evidence to determine how well existing tests would perform in the general UK population

More about Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is cancer that develops inside the mouth, usually on the surface of the tongue, the lips or the gums. In rare cases, it can also develop in the salivary glands, or in the tonsils.

» Read more about cancer of the mouth on NHS Choices

» Read more about cancers of the head and neck on Cancerbackup


Association of British Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
The Ben Walton Trust
The British Association for Cancer Research
The British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry
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 stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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