Prevention of HPV-Related Oral Cancer by Dentists: Assessing the Opinion of Dutch Dental Students
The aim of this study is to assess dental students’ opinions of the dentists’ role in primary prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oral cancer using a cross-sectional web-based survey. A questionnaire, containing questions about knowledge of HPV and oral cancer, confidence in head and neck examination and role of the dentist in preventing HPV-related oral cancer, was sent to all students of the Academic Centre of Dentistry Amsterdam (n = 912). One hundred and twenty-six (n = 126) students completed the questionnaire. Significantly, more master students (75%) than bachelor students (54.3%) were aware that HPV is a causative factor for oral cancer. Master students had more knowledge of HPV than bachelor students, but knowledge about HPV vaccination was irrespective of the study phase. The majority of dental students agreed that it is important to discuss HPV vaccination with patients. Eighty-nine percent of the students think that more education about symptoms of oral cancer will increase screening for oral cancer. Development of a protocol for screening in dental practices was considered even more important. According to dental students, dentists should discuss HPV as a risk factor for oral cancer with patients. Future dentists are willing to be involved in both primary and secondary prevention of HPV-related oral cancer. Therefore, screening for oral cancer and education about HPV vaccination should be integral elements of the dental curriculum.