Open Access Research article

What do women with gynecologic cancer know about HPV and their individual disease? A pilot study

Sophie Pils, Elmar A Joura, Max-Paul Winter, Anup Shrestha, Agnes Jaeger-Lansky and Johannes Ott*

Author Affiliations

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:388  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-388

Published: 30 May 2014



The vaccinations against human papilloma virus (HPV) are highly effective in preventing persistent infection. The level of knowledge about HPV and the consequences of an infection with this virus are low in the general population and in patients who suffer from HPV-associated diseases. We aimed to compare the level of knowledge about HPV and about the women’s individual malignant disease between women with and without HPV-associated gynecologic cancer as well as the knowledge about individual malignant diseases.


In a pilot study, 51 women with HPV-related cancer (cervical cancer: n = 30; vulvar or vaginal cancer: n = 21) and 60 women with non-HPV associated gynecologic malignancies (ovarian cancer: n = 30; endometrial cancer, n = 30) were included. They answered a questionnaire including questions about personal medical history, risk factors for cancer development, and HPV.


The general level of knowledge of the term “HPV” was low (29.7%, 33/111) and it was similar in patients with HPV-related and non-HPV-associated cancer (18/60, 30.0% vs. 15/51, 29.4%, respectively; p = 1.000). When asked about their disease, 80% (24/30) of women with ovarian cancer correctly named their diagnosis, followed by women with cervical cancer (73.3%, 22/30), endometrial cancer (70%, 21/30) and vaginal or vulvar cancer (42.9%, 9/21; p = 0.008).


The level of knowledge about HPV and the malignant diseases the patient suffered from was low. This applied even to patients with HPV associated malignancies.

HPV; Awareness; Disease knowledge; Patient information; Cancer