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03 Apr 2019
04-April 2019

Word of mouth says forum a huge success

VCCC Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancers: role of dental and medical practitioners

The newly established VCCC Research and Education Lead - Head and Neck Cancer program led by Associate Professor David Wiesenfeld met a need for professional development among oral health professionals with its first forum in March. Around 240 participants and speakers attended the full-day event at the VCCC.

“So many issues brought up here that we would love to explore further. Please consider repeating this forum; doing updates, and even extending it to a conference or seminar series. We have had DA Cert 4's, dental therapists, oral health therapists, hygienists and dentists from our team attend today, and they have all found the day fascinating and very, very relevant.”

R&E Lead Program, Head and Neck Cancer underway

VCCC Research and Education Lead programs aim to identify gaps in research, clinical care or education and strive to create learning and development opportunities of a collaborative nature, potentially not being addressed within individual organisations. Forum conveners, David Wiesenfeld and Sophie Beaumont, and the forum planning group worked with specialists across the VCCC alliance to develop a relevant program.

Oral health professionals placed to support patients before, during and after cancer treatment

Oral cancer rates continue to rise in Australia, with 15 new cases diagnosed in Victoria each week. Head and neck cancers, including lip, are seven on the list of the 20 most commonly diagnosed cancers in 2019. For males, head and neck cancers are in the top five. Early diagnosis and referral remain critical considerations for oral health professionals in regular contact with their patients.  New research and therapies can make it challenging for clinicians in the community to keep up to date with current practice and like many cancers, early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.

Generous and compelling presentations

Most participants said their overall goal for the day was to learn more about the main causes of oral and oropharyngeal cancers, treatment pathways, consequences and complications of the disease. More than twenty presenters from the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospitals, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Austin and Western Health shared their expertise alongside two guests with a personal experience of cancer. More than 70 participants commented on the personal value of these perspectives.

“Patient experience – moving and eye opener”.

The Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancers forum was recorded for learning purposes and will be highlighted on our website in Learning Resources in due course.