Contemporary perceptions of human papillomavirus and penile cancer: Perspectives from a national survey


  • Michael E. Zavaski
  • Julian Hanske
  • Björn Löppenberg
  • Alexander P. Cole
  • Nawar Hanna
  • Soham Gupta
  • Jairam R. Eswara
  • Mark A. Preston
  • Adam S. Kibel
  • Stuart R. Lipsitz
  • Maxine Sun
  • Quoc-Dien Trinh
  • Christian P. Meyer Department of Urology University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Center for Surgery and Public Health and Division of Urologic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital



HPV, penile cancer, survey


Introduction: We aimed to assess the contemporary knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) and its association with penile cancer in a nationwide cohort from the U.S.

Methods: We used the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), a cross-sectional telephone survey performed in the U.S. initiated by the National Cancer Institute. The most recent iteration, HINTS 4 Cycle 4, was conducted in mail format between August 19 and November 17, 2014. Primary endpoints included knowledge of HPV and its causal relationship to penile cancer. Baseline characteristics included sex, age, education, race and ethnicity, income, residency, personal or family history of cancer, health insurance status, and internet use. Multivariable logistic regression assessed predictors of HPV and penile cancer knowledge.

Results: An unweighted sample of 3376 respondents was extracted from the HINTS 4, Cycle 4. Whereas 64.4% of respondents had heard of HPV, only 29.5% of these were aware that it could cause penile cancer. Men were significantly less likely to have heard of HPV than women (odds ratio [OR] 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.24–0.43). Older age; African-American, Asian, and “other race”; being married; from a lower education bracket; having a personal cancer history; and those without internet access were significantly less likely to have heard of HPV. None of our examined variables were independent predictors for the knowledge of the association of penile cancer and HPV.

Conclusions: Our analysis of a large, nationally representative survey demonstrates that the majority of the American public is familiar with HPV, but lack a meaningful understanding between this virus and penile cancer. Primary care providers and specialists should be encouraged to intensify counselling about this significant association as a primary preventive measure of this potentially fatal disease.


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How to Cite

Zavaski, M. E., Hanske, J., Löppenberg, B., Cole, A. P., Hanna, N., Gupta, S., Eswara, J. R., Preston, M. A., Kibel, A. S., Lipsitz, S. R., Sun, M., Trinh, Q.-D., & Meyer, C. P. (2018). Contemporary perceptions of human papillomavirus and penile cancer: Perspectives from a national survey. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 13(2).



Original Research