Head and Neck Cancer Screening


Currently, no studies have shown that screening in head and neck cancer saves lives, but our own experience in head and neck screening at YNHH has shown that screening can identify cancers in patients that lead to cure.  In addition, patients are frequently referred to Smilow’s Head and Neck Cancer Team after a community dentist or oral surgeon identifies a suspicious lesion.

Smilow doctors advise that all patients have yearly mouth and oropharynx cancer screening with their dentists during routine dental visits.  In addition, examination of the neck, mouth, and oropharynx by their primary care physicians should be conducted at all routine physical examinations. 

Who should be screened?

  • All adults
  • High risk patients for squamous cell cancer include those with history of using tobacco, heavy alcohol, betel nut, and multiple sexual partners

What tests are available through the Smilow Screening and Prevention Program? 

  • Extensive oral and head and neck physical examination
  • Risk evaluation
  • Education

Complete oral and head and neck cancer screening by a thorough physical examination is provided to patients by specialists in head and neck cancer throughout the year at various sites.  Every April during Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), in collaboration with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, we host an outreach event.  

For patients with a history of Head & Neck Cancer

Based on the NCCN guidelines, we recommend follow-up physical examination according to the following schedule:

  • Year 1: every 1 to 3 months
  • Year 2: every 2 to 4 months
  • Years 3 to 5: every 4 to 6 months
  • Year 5 and Beyond: every 6 to 12 months