Awareness of Head and Neck Cancers Low Among American Adults, Study Finds

The study sought to assess awareness and knowledge of head and neck cancers among U.S. adults, and information to that end came via an online survey of 2,126 randomly selected U.S. adults, polled in 2013. It measured subjective and objective assessment of personal knowledge of HNC, including symptoms, risk factors and association with the human papillomavirus.

Self-reported knowledge of head and neck cancers was low with 66 percent of respondents reporting that they were "not very" or "not at all" knowledgeable. As for risk factors, 54.5 percent of respondents identified smoking and 32.7 of respondents identified chewing or spitting tobacco, but just 0.8 percent of respondents identified HPV infection as a risk factor for mouth and throat cancer. Respondents also knew little about symptoms and body sites comprising head and neck cancers, with 21 percent even incorrectly identifying brain cancer as a head and neck cancer.

Study authors concluded that strategies to improve public awareness and knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors may decrease the disease burden of head and neck cancers and are important topics for future research.

The American Dental Association has information about oral cancer on, the ADA's consumer education website.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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