Background: Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is an important cause of cancer-related mortality. Early detection of OPC results in a favorable prognosis and higher survival rates. Infection by high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for OPC with an upward trend globally. Medical students' knowledge and awareness of HPV-related OPC can be crucial in the preventive efforts. Aim: To assess HPV knowledge among medical students at the University of Jordan, with particular focus on its relation to different cancers. Methods: This paper-based survey study was conducted in November 2019. The survey items were based on previously validated surveys used to evaluate HPV-related OPC knowledge among dental students and professionals. To assess HPV knowledge and students' confidence in personal history taking and physical examination, we developed a knowledge and confidence scores that showed acceptable reliability. Results: The total number of participants was 1198 students, with a median age of 21 and female predominance (n = 697, 58.2%). Among the participants, 93.3% heard of HPV prior to this survey (n = 1118). Higher levels of knowledge regarding cervical cancer, OPC and HPV vaccination was seen among clinical students compared to their preclinical counterparts, but their overall HPV knowledge was low. Only 18.4% and 21.0% of the clinical students correctly identified the association of HPV with penile and oropharyngeal cancers, respectively. Additionally, 34.5% of the clinical students were not aware of the availability of HPV vaccines. The majority of students (92.0%) reported that the university courses were their major source of knowledge about HPV. Conclusion: A profound lack of knowledge regarding HPV role in OPC was found among medical students. This insufficiency included several aspects of the virus and its associated diseases. Such gaps in knowledge could have negative consequences in early detection and prevention of OPC and should be addressed by evaluation of the current curriculum.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Cancer and Oncology
- medical education
- oropharyngeal cancer
- sexually transmitted infection