013 – Oral cancer risk test: An improved approach to early oral cancer detection and prevention

  • Chief Investigator A: Prof Michael McCullough
  • Chief Investigator B: Prof Spas Kolev
  • Support: Percy Baxter Charitable Trust (through Perpetual’s 2015 IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program)


Oral cancer is the eighth and 13th most common cancer in the world for males and females respectively. This disease is more common in disadvantaged groups, who have higher rates of known risk factors, including smoking, drinking and low dental care access. Oral cancer is difficult to detect, remaining undiagnosed until well advanced. The prognosis is therefore often poor, with severe health and economic impacts for patients and their families.

With earlier diagnosis, treatment and prognosis is enormously improved. People at high risk of developing oral cancer will be encouraged to modify their risk behaviours, and so may never develop this disease. The Oral Cancer Risk Test (OCRT) examines for oral cancer and future disease risks. This early intervention strategy will significantly reduce oral cancer health and economic impacts.


  • Assess the OCRT’s ability to differentiate between patients who are known to have oral cancer and patients who do not
  • Detect patients with early stage oral cancer or high risk of developing this disease

Expected outcomes

  • Impact oral cancer risk assessment and outcomes
  • Reduce the health and economic effects of oral cancer