Current Status

oral cancer screening

Risk FactorS

Stop Smoking!

About 90% of lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoking. Tobacco smoke contains carcinogens that can initiate tumor development. Tobacco smoke can also weaken the body’s immune system and cancer surveillance mechanisms. In addition to lung cancer, cigarette smoking has been associated with almost every type of cancer in the body.

drink moderately!

Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancer as well as liver cancer. Alcohol consumption has also been associated with esophageal, breast, and colon cancer.

Get screened!

About 15-20% of total cancer cases globally can be attributed to infections, including H. pylori (stomach), hepatitis B and C (liver), herpes (Kaposi’s sarcoma), HIV (lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma), and HPV (cervix, anus, throat, penis, vagina). Infection-associated cancer can be prevented through vaccination and screening.




what is oral cancer?

  • Oral cancer is the cancer of the oral cavity (mouth) and oropharynx (throat). It may be more specifically referred to as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, and throat cancer
  • Oral cancer is also the eleventh most common cancer in the world, accounting for an estimated 300,000 new cases and 145,000 deaths annually (GLOBOCAN2012)

What increases the risk of developing oral cancer?

  • Tobacco and alcohol consumption: It’s is estimated that tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking increases the risk of developing oral cancer by 2-3 fold.
  • HPV infection: It is estimated that oral HPV infection increases the risk of developing oral cancer by up to 32-fold.

How does oral hpv infection contribute to the development of oral cancer?

  • Essentially, cancers are uncontrolled cell growth.
  • In normal cells, cell growth is carefully regulated by various tumor suppressor genes.
  • Persistent HPV infection could inactivate two important tumor suppressor genes: p53 and pRB, which initiates cancer development.

Can oral cancer be prevented?

  • The risks of developing oral cancer can be reduced if individuals avoid tobacco use, heavy alcohol drinking, and reduce their exposure to oral HPV infections.
  • Oral cancer is preceded by precancerous lesions.
  • Detection, and treatment of these precancerous lesions can prevent the development of oral cancer

What is oral hpv screening and why is annual HPV screening important?

  • Oral HPV screening determines the presence of HPV DNA in the mouth.
  • HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the US. Infected individuals are frequently unaware that they are carriers, and transmission occurs unknowingly.
  • Most HPV infections are asymptomatic, meaning there are no early and obvious symptoms.
  • A persistent HPV infection can lead to a malignant transformation.

Who should do an annual HPV screening?

  • Annual HPV screening becomes important when individuals become sexually active, engage in oral sex, and especially for those who have multiple partners.
  • Annual screening is highly recommended for individuals who have family history of oral cancer, and are the partners of oral cancer patients

Oral Cancer screening




  • Check for symmetry
  • Face and nose
  • Ears and neck
  • Hairline and scalp
  • Lips: vermillion border


  • A positive node may be the only clinical sign for oropharyngeal cancer
  • Parotid, submandibular, SCM, midline larynx, thyroid, submental


  • Tongue: anterior, posterior, lethal, dorsal, ventral, base
  • Lips/depth of vestibule, cheeks
  • Frenum, floor of the mouth
  • Hard palate, soft palate
  • Oropharynx, tonsillar pillars
  • TMJ palpation


  • Eva Grayzel, an oral cancer survivor, provides six steps towards a thorough oral cancer screening:
    • Step 1: Tongue ‘n Gauze
    • Step 2: Lip and Cheek Roll
    • Step 3: Double-Digit Probe
    • Step 4: Palate Tickle
    • Step 5: Neck Caress
    • Step 6: Tonsil Ahhhhhh