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BMJ Open. 2018 Jul 28;8(7):e023339. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023339.

A cross-sectional survey of awareness of human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancers among general practitioners in the UK.

Author information

1
UCL Cancer Institute, University College London, London, UK.
2
Head and Neck Centre, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.
3
Institute for Global Health, University College London, London, London, UK.
4
GP, West of Scotland, Glasgow, UK.
5
ENT Department, Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Wrexham, UK.
6
Department of Otolaryngology, Lister Hospital, Stevenage, UK.
7
Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
8
Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London, London, UK.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine the level of awareness of the link between human papillomavirus (HPV) and oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) and epidemiological trends in HPV-related OPC among general practitioners (GPs) in the UK.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey.

PARTICIPANTS:

384 GPs from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

SETTING:

The survey was administered at GP training courses and via email to lists of training course attendees.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES:

Proportion of respondents aware of the link between HPV and OPC; respondents' self-rated knowledge of OPC; proportion of participants aware of the epidemiological trends in HPV-associated OPC.

RESULTS:

384 questionnaires were completed with an overall response rate of 72.9%. 74.0% of participants recognised HPV as a risk factor for OPC, which was lower than knowledge about the role of smoking, chewing tobacco and alcohol consumption (all >90% recognition). Overall, 19.4% rated their knowledge of OPC as very good or good, 62.7% as average and 17.7% as poor or very poor. The majority (71.9%) were aware that rates of HPV-associated OPC have increased over the last two decades. Fewer than half (41.5%) of the participants correctly identified being male as a risk factor of HPV-associated OPC, while 58.8% were aware that patients with HPV-associated OPC tend to be younger than those with non-HPV-associated disease.

CONCLUSIONS:

The association of HPV infection with OPC is a relatively recent discovery. Although the level of awareness of HPV and OPC among GPs was high, the characteristics of HPV-associated OPC were less well recognised, indicating the need for further education.

KEYWORDS:

HPV vaccines; general practice; human papillomavirus; oropharyngeal neoplasms; primary health care

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