The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of oral cavity cancer screening among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
It has been identified that assessing the benefits and harms of oral cavity cancer screening among persons of high risk, such as those with a history of tobacco and heavy alcohol use, should be a research priority. Regrettably, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians fit this profile. In addition, continued research is required to determine the accuracy of primary care providers (for example, Aboriginal community controlled health service workers) in providing oral cavity cancer screening services for those at high risk, as well as longitudinal follow-up of screening studies that show the health effectiveness and cost effectiveness of oral cavity cancer screening, and a clear definition of who is at high risk.
What we aim to achieve
The aim of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of screening for oral cavity cancers among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The project provides a key example of how carefully calibrated, data-driven disease models can integrate with Aboriginal community views and expectations to estimate disease burden and to guide policy decisions. The results will also point to important areas where research efforts should be focussed to improve outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. For example, the evaluation will quantify the treatment- and test-related utility related to the psychosocial impact of treatment and testing on the cost-effectiveness of systematic screening for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer.
What are the next steps and milestones for your research?
Upon completion of this project we intend to undertake further research to disentangle the role of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander oral cavity cancer. Specifically, we will investigate the impact of the HPV vaccine uptake on Indigenous oral cavity cancer rates, determine differences by age, sex and other oral cavity cancer risk factors such as tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption, and work with Indigenous communities to establish the value-base upon which Indigenous Australians rate experience and treatment of oral cavity cancer relative to other diseases.
What motivates you to pursue cancer research?
Four family members and one friend have died as a consequence of cancer. Research into cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is an important priority area that I, and my team, feel personally engaged with, and passionate about.
My message to supporters:
Cancer is real and penetrates across all strata of society. Oral cavity cancer has a poor prognosis due to its often late detection. The rates of this disease are high among Indigenous Australians, possibly due to high rates of tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption in this group. High quality research into this area is critical if we are to make any advances in closing the gap in Indigenous and non-Indigenous health in Australia. It is a human rights concern.