Original Publication
Open Access

Head, Neck and Oral Cancer Examination

Published: December 7, 2009 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.7768

Included in this publication:

  • Oral Neck Cancer Exam.mp4

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Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


This 40-minute video is intended for practitioners of dentistry, medicine, nursing, and public health who are responsible for diagnosing and referring patients with head and neck and oral cancer. Approximately 31,000 cases of oral and head and neck cancer are diagnosed in the United States yearly, and about 25% of these patients die from their disease. Most of these tumors represent squamous cell carcinoma of the oral mucous membranes. The combined 5-year survival rate in the United States is approximately 57%. A squamous cell carcinoma found in stage 1 has a 5-year prognosis of 95%, while the same tumor diagnosed in stage 4 has a 5-year prognosis of approximately 20%. The purpose of this video is to provide the practitioner with the baseline skills to diagnose and refer patients with head and neck and oral cancer at the earliest possible time. Dentists and physicians (students and licensed practitioners) will thereby have a means of providing patients with a complete head and neck and oral examination. This will allow these cancers to be diagnosed at the earliest possible time, thus increasing the prognosis and decreasing morbidity and mortality.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this video, learners will be able to:

  1. Understand the etiology and vital statistics of head and neck and oral cancer.
  2. Take a pertinent medical history, including alcohol and tobacco use.
  3. Perform a complete extraoral examination.
  4. Properly palpate lymph nodes.
  5. Perform a complete intraoral examination.

Author Information

  • Michael A. Siegel, DDS, MS, FDS, RCSEd: Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
  • Dominic M. Aloise, BS: Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
  • Valerie Murrah, DMD, MS, MAEd: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Dentistry

None to report.

None to report.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures 2006. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2006.
  2. National Cancer Institute, Surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program public-use-data, 1973-1998. Rockville, Md.: National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Surveillance Research Program, Cancer Statistics Branch; 2001.


Siegel M, Murrah V, Aloise D. Head, neck and oral cancer examination. MedEdPORTAL. 2009;5:7768. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.7768

This publication is co-sponsored by the American Dental Education Association.