HPV, oropharyngeal cancer, and the role of the dentist: A professional ethical approach

Mary Northridge, Naila Manji, Romney T. Piamonte, Frederick More, Ralph Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an emerging risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer, especially among younger patients, and must be thoughtfully addressed by the dental community. The professional ethical decision-making model first advanced by Ozar and Sokol for use by dentists at chairside (define the dilemma, assess the facts, identify and rank the alternatives, and choose a course of action) was modified to delineate clearly inputs, considerations, and feedback loops based on what is professionally and ethically at stake in advising patients. As the link between HPV and oropharyngeal cancer is established through scientific studies, the role of the dentist in primary and secondary prevention will be crucial. In the absence of definitive evidence, the professional ethical decision-making framework presented here allows dentists to systematically work through available alternatives. Ultimately, the role of the dentist is to use discretion in choosing a professional and ethical course of action for each patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number4 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Dentistry
  • Ethics
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Oral health
  • Oral sex
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Prevention
  • Professional guidelines
  • Screening
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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