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A Leader, Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


Human papillomavirus (HPV) associated oropharyngeal cancer has witnessed an increased incidence in the United States (U.S.) in the recent years. More than 2370 new cases of HPV related oropharyngeal cancer in women and 9356 cases in men are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Young, Non-Hispanic, white men are at the greatest risk of contracting oral HPV cancer. The alarming increase in the disease distribution of oral HPV cancer is a cause for concern, demanding immediate action. Limited evidence based information is available regarding the screening and prevention of oral HPV infection as compared to HPV related to cervical and anal cancers. Oral health care providers can play a pivotal role in the prevention, screening, timely diagnosis and effective treatment of oral HPV infection as well as in patient education about the same. The purpose of this study was to assess the role that dentists assume in basic risk assessment and education about the association between HPV and oral cancer. It assessed their comfort and confidence in discussing oral HPV with their patients and also assessed how important they consider HPV as an oral health concern. An 8-item survey was mailed to 500 general practice dentists practicing in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, who were randomly selected for the purpose of the study. Out of the 149 participants who completed the survey, 112 were males and 116 had a suburban practice. Their mean age was 55 years and their mean years in practice were 28. Sixty-seven dentists counseled their patients about HPV and oral cancer, 52 conducted basic HPV risk assessment in patients, 50 dentists were confident in educating their patients about HPV and oral cancer, 91 considered it an important oral health concern and 32 were comfortable in discussing sensitive topics like sexual history with their patients. 112 dentists had HPV and oral cancer related educational materials for patients in their practice. Dentists ≤ 56 years of age were significantly more likely to see patients with oral HPV infection as compared to dentists ≥ 57 years of age, (c2 = 6.344, p = .012). Dentists with ≤ 29 years in practice were significantly more likely to see patients with oral HPV infection as compared to dentists with ≥ 30 years in practice (c2 = 4.683, p = .030). Age, gender, years in practice and practice location of dentists collectively were a significant predictor (p = 0.000) of how often dentists saw patients with oral HPV infection in their practice. Results from the study suggested that there is a lack of dentist participation in patient oral HPV education, counseling and risk assessment. Strategies need to be adopted and interventions implemented, to enable oral health care providers to assume a greater role in oral HPV risk assessment, screening and education.

Presentation: 19 minutes