Cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx are a heterogeneous group of pathologic entities with variations in preoperative imaging requirements, optimal treatment selection, prognosis and quality of life repercussions. Given such complexities, the best oncologic and functional outcomes require a concerted multidisciplinary approach. In addition to the head and neck surgeon, input from radiation and medical oncologists and a full team of medical, dental and allied health specialists is required before selection and institution of therapy. Further workup requirements include obtaining appropriate radiographic imaging for clinical tumor staging, determining human papillomavirus (HPV) status and assessment and optimization of the general physical status of the patient. This includes assessment of general medical conditions, nutritional status, smoking and alcohol habits, dental health and available psychosocial supports. Postoperative complications and likely outcomes should be anticipated and their prevention and management should be prepared for in advance.