Abstract Information about place and time of death can help patients, carers, general medical practitioners, and multi-professional teams to put palliation for oral cancer into context, particularly the aspirations of patients about where they die. Aintree Regional Maxillofacial Unit treated 487 consecutive patients for primary oral squamous cell carcinoma between 2006 and 2010. Mortality was ascertained from the Office for National Statistics. A total of 65 (13%) patients were treated with palliative intent, and median (IQR) survival was 4.3 months (2.1–8.0). The most common reasons for palliation were inoperability (33%) and extensive disease associated with serious comorbidity (18%). A total of 22 died in hospital, 14 in a hospice, 14 in their own home, 14 in a nursing, residential, or old people's home, and one elsewhere. Most patients given palliative care do not die in hospital and survival is short. Their needs and those of their carers can be better met through integrated care that is linked to the primary sector.