The Victorian Oral Cancer Screening and Prevention Program

Oral cancer is on the rise in Victoria. This new program supports oral and other health professionals to promote prevention, enable earlier detection and improve the lives of Victorians.

Oral cancer (including oropharyngeal cancer) is a significant cause of disease burden in Victoria, with an average of 16 new diagnoses and three deaths a week. This is the 8th most common cancer in men and 14th most common cancer in women in Victoria.

The Victorian Oral Cancer Screening and Prevention Program empowers health professionals in primary care to identify and support people at risk, recognise suspicious lesions and refer appropriately. In the first phase of the program, evidence-based training, information and tools were developed for Victorian oral health professionals. The second phase of the program has been delivered in partnership with RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) to provide training and learning resources for General Practitioners to help them identify people at risk of oral cancer and ensure timely referral.

Where can I find information and training?

Oral health professionals can visit the Oral Cancer Learning Hub at, take the quiz and record 3 scientific CPD points.

General Practitioners who are registered with RACGP can access the learning module Oral Cancer: Prevention, early detection and referral and earn CPD.

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Who is at risk of oral cancer?

Tobacco use and alcohol consumption cause three in four cases of oral cancer. Over 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). These cancers are more common in people over 45, especially men; people in low socioeconomic areas; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Detecting oral cancer early saves lives

Screening at regular dental check-ups is the best way to detect oral cancer early, and only takes a short time. Every patient should be screened, not just those at higher risk.

“With earlier diagnosis, a person’s treatment and prognosis can be enormously improved,” says Michael McCullough, Professor of Oral Medicine at the University of Melbourne Dental School.

How can I get involved in the program?

If your agency or practice would like to know more about the Victorian Oral Cancer Screening and Prevention Program, share case studies or become oral cancer champions, contact program lead Nidhi Saraswat at

Where can I find oral cancer information for patients?

DHSV has information about oral cancer risk, prevention and treatment for patients and consumers here.

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