Partnership to boost oral cancer early detection

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oral cancer early detection
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Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) has partnered with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to ensure general practitioners across Australia have the tools they need to detect oral cancer early and save lives. 

A national online learning resource has been launched on the RACGP website to empower its members to identify individuals at risk of oral cancer, detect the disease earlier through screening and have important prevention conversations with patients. 

In Australia, there are more than 4000 new cases of head, neck and lip cancers diagnosed every year and the majority of these are oral cancers. In 2022, there were an estimated 2642 cases of lip and oral cancers with this figure expected to rise in the coming years. 

Largely due to delayed presentation or diagnosis, oral cancer carries low survival rates, which is why the Victorian Government’s 2016-20 Cancer Plan established the Oral Cancer Screening and Prevention Program to boost prevention and early detection of this disease. 

Funded by the Victorian Government, the program is led by DHSV in partnership with the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, the Australian Dental Association (Victorian Branch) and the Victorian Department of Health. 

DHSV launched the Oral Cancer Learning Hub in 2021—a practical and evidence-based resource that supports oral health professionals to recognise and refer suspected oral cancers in early stages for faster investigation, diagnosis and treatment.  

“Because GPs are often the first stop for Victorians seeking medical help, phase two of the program supports GPs to detect oral cancer early and empower patients to make healthy choices,” DHSV CEO Susan McKee said.

“With this program we’re taking early detection and prevention to Victorians where they are.” 

This GP training includes information about oral cancer risk factors and prevention, a visual guide of suspicious lesions, a screening tutorial, clinical case studies, and referral pathways. 

It also provides advice for GPs on how to have conversations with patients about the common risk factors for oral cancer and the importance of reporting any unexplained changes or symptoms in the mouth. 

Content was developed in consultation with experts at DHSV, RACGP, University of Melbourne, Cancer Council Victoria, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Victorian Department of Health. 

This resource is now available to all GPs registered with RACGP in Australia and relevant CPD hours can be claimed after completion. 

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