The oral cavity starts at the lips and ends at the line marked by the junction of the hard and soft palates and the circumvallate papillae. It has an important role in swallowing, taste and speech.
Head and neck cancers constitute 15% of all cancers, and one-third of all head and neck tumours arise within the oral cavity. The vast majority of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (SCC, 90%); adenocarcinomas are the second commonest, while other types of tumour are fairly uncommon. The patient (males predominate 3-4) usually presents with a painless ulcer or cervical lymphadenopathy.