Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer are essential to achieving a good prognosis. This is particularly true for oral and pharyngeal cancer (OPC) which accounts for over half a million new cases and 200,000 deaths worldwide per annum. Despite the high mortality and high morbidity associated with OPC, it remains a relatively unknown disease. The lack of public awareness and the low profile of this disease, even among health care professionals, are considered among the main reasons for late presentation, with 60% of cases presenting at an advanced stage. Due to the age and general medical profile of the average oral cancer patient, many attend their general physician on a regular basis. An opportunity therefore exists to increase the rate of detection of early asymptomatic lesions by opportunistic screening particularly of "high risk individuals". Furthermore, prompt recognition of symptomatic lesions has the potential to greatly enhance the outcome for these patients. The aim of this paper is to increase awareness of OPC and to highlight the need for closer interdisciplinary links between medical and dental professionals.