Prioritising Oral Cancer Screening and Early Detection

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A new campaign is a call to action for oral health professionals

Over recent years, there has been a noticeable change in people's attitudes towards health checks and health-seeking behaviours, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on oral cancer diagnoses as well. Oral cancer (including oropharyngeal cancer) is on the rise in Victoria and in an average week, more than 16 people are diagnosed with it.

People over the age of 45 years are at increased risk, as are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people in low-income groups. Older women and younger people who are non-smokers and non-drinkers are emerging at-risk groups.

Smoking, alcohol, tobacco and betel nut use, HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection increases the risk of oral cancer. Early detection of oral cancer can save a person’s life and prognosis can be significantly improved.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Early Detection campaign emphasises that patients are more likely to participate in cancer screening if advised by their doctor or health professional. Oral health professionals play a crucial role in oral cancer screening, prevention and early detection to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients.

Now is the time to reinforce the importance of oral cancer screening and early detection to all patients and encourage them to take proactive steps towards protecting their health.

During patient consultations, highlight the importance of regular oral cancer screenings in detecting potential cancers early and increasing the chances of successful treatment outcomes. Furthermore, it is crucial to educate patients about the common risk factors for oral cancer and the importance of reporting any unexplained changes or symptoms in the mouth (persistent ulcer, lump, sore throat etc.) unhealed for more than 2-3 weeks.

The Oral Cancer Screening and Prevention Program* led by Dental Health Services Victoria with funding from the Department of Health launched the Oral Cancer Learning Hub to enhance oral health professionals’ ability to identify people at risk, detect cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx early and refer appropriately.

This website can serve as a valuable tool in supporting oral health professionals to educate patients about oral cancer risk, symptoms and prevention. To learn more, visit or email .

*Program delivered in partnership with the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, The Australian Dental Association – Victorian Branch and the Victorian Department of Health.

Access the Early Detection Stakeholder Kit.