Preventing oral cancer

Three in four cases of oral cancer can be prevented, with your help. Empower your patients by providing evidence-based advice to reduce oral cancer risk.

Look for opportunities to support every patient, using brief advice models such as Ask, Advise, Help (which you may be familiar with from Smokefree Smiles).

Identifying oral cancer risk factors and discussing them with your patients may feel challenging at first. Start the conversation; personalise and keep it brief; and show support with action. While patients may not take your advice immediately, brief advice works. It can almost double a person’s chance of successfully quitting smoking; and one in eight people will reduce their drinking.

Help your patients quit smoking

Ask about tobacco use to identify smokers; give brief advice; help the patient access pharmacotherapy and offer referral to Quitline for smoking cessation support.


Did you know there is an Aboriginal Quitline?

Aboriginal Quitline

Support your patients to drink less

Ask about alcohol consumption to identify high-risk drinkers; give brief advice; help the patient by offering referral to their GP or DirectLine for alcohol cessation support.

Alcohol guidelines

“The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of oral cancer. Not drinking at all is the safest option.”

Explain the link to oropharyngeal cancer. Practicing safe sex reduces risk.

Recommend the HPV vaccine

Learn More

Protect lips from UV damage.


A healthy balanced diet, including adequate amounts of non-starchy vegetables and fruit, may help lower the risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers.

Dental Health Services Victoria provides consumer information about oral cancer risk and prevention.

Last updated: April 2023