Awareness of Polish undergraduate and graduate students regarding the impact of viral infections and high-risk sexual behaviors on the occurrence of oral cancer

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With every passing year, more and more studies and observations demonstrate growing incidence of oral cancer, a decrease in patients’ age, and an increasing number of epidemiological factors. The aim of the study was to determine the level of awareness among undergraduate and graduate university students regarding the incidence of oral cancer linked with viral infections and high-risk sexual behavior, including oral sex. Self-administered questionnaire-based survey was carried out among 196 Polish students aged 19 to 25 years. It was found that the young adults understood the meaning of human papillomavirus (HPV), but associated it only with the squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. A total of 43.4% did not realize that there was any correlation between HPV infection and the development of oral cancer. The students who were aware of this correlation constituted 40.3% of the total. The majority of the participants, that is, 82 subjects (41.8%), did not associate the occurrence of malignant neoplasms of the oral cavity with oral sex. The study group did not present adequate awareness of the fact that occurrence of oral cancer may be associated with high-risk sexual behaviors. Knowledge of oral cancer was not significantly related to the level of university education (P < .005).

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