Most oral malignancies are squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC). Incidence of OSCC is increasing in both genders, and survival rates remain poor. OSCC is frequently preceded by potentially malignant disorders (OPMD), which include leukoplakia, erythroplakia and lichen planus. OSCC is preventable because the risk factors are known: smoking and alcohol consumption, snuff and human papillomavirus infections. Fresh vegetables, fruit and fish provide protection from OSCC. Regular systematic examination is essential to the early detection of OSCC and OPMD. Treatment of oral cancers comprises either surgery alone, or combined with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Management of patients with OPMD and treated OSCC include careful life-long follow-up.