Human Papilloma Virus- Associated Head and Neck Cancer: A 21st Century Pandemic; Assessing Student Awareness and Knowledge
Fergal Kavanagh1 and Aisling McNamara1,2, Ola Fopohunda1,2, Prof Ivan Keogh1,2.
1. Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Galway, Newcastle Rd, Galway.
2. Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway.
Our aim was to investigate the level of awareness within a high risk, relevant cohort of Irish university students surrounding head and neck cancer (HNC), HPV and the link between the two conditions. This is particularly relevant considering the increasing HPV-related HNC which is expected to surpass the incidence of cervical cancer by 2020 .
An anonymous, closed questionnaire-based survey of all the registered students of the National University of Ireland, Galway (population circa 17,000) was distributed using a survey provider platform.
1,582 responded, 1,468 completed the questionnaire; 68% female and 32% male. Age range 17-64. 63% had never heard the term HNC. 45% had never heard the term HPV. 69% were not aware of how one would be exposed to HPV. 84% were unaware of the association between HNC and HPV. Although 94% of females were familiar with the vaccine, only 50% knew the vaccine was protective against HPV. 78% of participants were not aware that the vaccine would be of benefit to males. 84% of male respondents would be open to being vaccinated.
There is a profound knowledge gap in this high risk cohort of students and it is imperative that a national campaign is implemented to raise the profile of HNC and HPV and its risk factors in Ireland, given the current lack of awareness.
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