© 2015 Australian Dental Association. Background This study aimed to investigate patient experiences regarding the discovery of and subsequent referral for suspicious oral mucosal pathology. The population under investigation were patients of an oral medicine clinic in Australia who had been referred for oral lesions suspected for malignancy. Methods A self-completed questionnaire gathered information regarding patient experiences and beliefs leading up to diagnosis at their review appointments. Results Fifty-four per cent of participants knew about their mucosal pathology before referral. The highest proportion of delay occurred between self-discovery of a lesion and seeking help. Ninety-one per cent of self-aware participants had reason for seeking help in relation to their mucosal pathology. The three most common reasons for this was the desire for an explanation, being advised by a health care provider or presence of pain. Conclusions Some patients were unaware of their own oral mucosal pathology and some seek help only when worried, in pain or following advice. Practitioners should examine the oral mucosa to detect suspicious oral mucosal pathology since patients may not be aware of its existence.