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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cancer

Photo of a nurse giving a vaccine to a pre-teen boy while his mother looks on.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most cervical cancers, as well as some cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

HPV vaccines are recommended for preteen girls and boys to protect against HPV infection. All kids who are 11 or 12 years old should get the three-dose series of HPV vaccine. Teens who did not get the vaccine or did not get all three doses when they were younger should get it now.

Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. The Pap test is recommended for women between ages 21 and 65. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test.


Each year, about 38,793 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where HPV is often found. HPV causes about 30,700 of these cancers. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer among women, and oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are the most common among men. Learn more.

Featured Resources

Genital HPV Infection Fact Sheet

The Genital HPV Infection fact sheet [PDF-1.4MB] explains what HPV is, what health problems it can cause, and how to lower your risk of getting it.

CDC Expert Commentary on Medscape by Dr. Tom Frieden: Protect the Next Generation: Recommend the HPV Vaccine

In this CDC Expert Commentary on Medscape, Dr. Tom Frieden urges doctors to recommend the HPV vaccine.

HPV Vaccines Are Safe For Your Child

This fact sheet [PDF-320KB] explains why HPV vaccines are safe for your child.