Referral to emergency
If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.
- concerns of acute airway obstruction
- uncontrolled bleeding
For clinical advice, please telephone the relevant metropolitan Local Health Network switchboard and ask to speak to the relevant specialty service.
Central Adelaide Local Health Network
Southern Adelaide Local Health Network
- Flinders Medical Centre (08) 8204 5511
Category 1 - appointment clinically indicated within 30 days
- confirmed major head and neck malignancies including:
Category 2 — appointment clinically indicated within 90 days
- confirmed benign head and neck masses with fine needle aspirate/core biopsy/imaging. including parotid tumours
Category 3 — appointment clinically indicated within 365 days
For information on referral forms and how to import them, please view general referral information.
Essential referral information
Completion required before first appointment to ensure patients are ready for care. Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.
- identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- identify within your referral if you feel your patient is from a vulnerable population and/or requires a third party to receive correspondence on their behalf
- interpreter requirements
- past medical/surgical history
- current medications and dosages
- allergies and sensitivities
- presenting symptoms
- management history including:
- onset and duration
- rapid growth
- associated features, e.g. functional impairment, neurological features
- smoking/vaping status
- fine needle aspirate/core biopsy of mass (ultrasound guided) if difficult to palpate
- copies of relevant radiology, pathology, and investigation reports
- ultrasound (US) or computerized tomography (CT) imaging of any subcutaneous mass for suspected malignancy
Additional information to assist triage categorisation
- photograph including disposable measurement tool – with patient’s consent, where secure image transfer, identification and storage is possible
Clinical management advice
Please note that head and neck referrals can be managed by the following specialist services:
- ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
- plastic surgery
Consider referral to ENT for tumours with threatened airway obstruction, or thyroid involvement.
Dental abscesses require referral to oromaxillofacial for ongoing management and treatment.
It is strongly recommended that people who smoke or vape stop 3 months prior to consultation. Smoking/vaping is associated with delayed healing. Please refer to useful resources section for further information.
If the patient requires urgent attention and/or fulfils category 1 triage criteria, please contact the on-call registrar to discuss and ensure your referral has been received.
- Cancer Australia – Head and Neck
- Central Adelaide Local Health Network – PreHab: Getting Ready for Surgery