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How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?

Each year, about 33,000 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. HPV causes about 26,800 of these cancers.

Number of HPV-Associated Cancer Cases per Year

An HPV-associated cancer is a cancer that is diagnosed in a part of the body where HPV is often found. These parts of the body include the cervix, anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Researchers use cancer registry data to estimate the number of HPV-associated cancers in the United States by looking at cancer in parts of the body and cancer cell types that are more likely to be caused by HPV. Cancer registries do not routinely collect data on whether HPV is in the cancer tissue. CDC studies1 2 have reported the number of HPV-associated cancer cases per year, and these studies have more information on how HPV-associated numbers were calculated.

Number of HPV-Attributable Cancer Cases per Year

An HPV-attributable cancer is a cancer that is probably caused by HPV. HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers and many cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx. CDC studies3 4 5 used population-based data from cancer tissue to estimate the percentage of these cancers that are probably caused by HPV.

To find the number of HPV-attributable cancers, multiply the number of HPV-associated cancers by the percentage of these cancers that are probably caused by HPV. For example, about 4,370 people are diagnosed with anal cancer each year, and about 91% of anal cancers are thought to be caused by HPV. 91% of 4,370 is 3,977, or about 4,000, as shown in the table below.

Cancer siteAverage number of cancers per year in sites where HPV is often found (HPV-associated cancers)Percentage probably caused by HPVNumber probably caused by HPV
MaleFemaleBoth SexesMaleFemaleBoth Sexes
Anus1,5492,8214,37091%1,4002,6004,000
Cervix011,42211,42291%010,40010,400
Oropharynx9,9742,44312,41772%7,2001,8009,000
Penis1,04801,04863%7000700
Vagina073573575%0600600
Vulva03,1683,16869%02,2002,200
TOTAL12,57120,58933,160 9,30017,60026,900

Individual cells may not sum to total due to rounding.

Stacked bar chart showing the average number of cancer cases per year, and the number probably caused by HPV. Males: 1,400 of 1,549 anal cancers; 7,200 of 9,974 oropharyngeal cancers; and 700 of 1,048 penile cancers are probably caused by HPV. Females: 2,600 of 2,821 anal cancers; 1,800 of 2,443 oropharyngeal cancers; 10,400 of 11,422 cervical cancers; 600 of 735 vaginal cancers; and 2,200 of 3,168 vulvar cancers are probably caused by HPV.

Data are from all states meeting USCS publication criteria for all years 2006 to 2010 and cover about 94.8% of the U.S. population.

To determine the cancers most likely to be HPV-associated, the following additional criteria were applied to the NPCR/SEER data—

  • All cancers were confirmed microscopically.
  • Cervical cancers were limited by histology to carcinomas only (ICD-O-3 histology codes 8010 to 8671 and 8940 to 8941).
  • All other cancer sites were limited by histology to squamous cell carcinomas only (ICD-O-3 histology codes 8050 to 8084 and 8120 to 8131).
  • Oropharyngeal cancers were defined as having the following ICD-O-3 site codes: 19, 24, 28, 90, 91, 98, 99, 102, 108, 109, 140, 142, and 148.

For more information, see Using population-based cancer registry data to assess the burden of human papillomavirus-associated cancers in the United States: Overview of methods.

References

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Human papillomavirus–associated cancers—United States, 2004–2008. MMWR 2012;61(15):258–261.

2Supplement: Assessing the Burden of HPV-Associated Cancers in the United States. Cancer 2008;113(S10):2837–3057.

3Steinau M, Unger ER, Hernandez BY, Goodman MT, Copeland G, Hopenhayn C, Cozen W, Saber MS, Huang Y, Peters ES, Lynch CF, Wilkinson EJ, Rajeevan MS, Lyu C, Saraiya M. Human papillomavirus prevalence in invasive anal cancers in the United States before vaccine introduction. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease 2013;17(4):397–403.

4Gargano JW, Wilkinson EJ, Unger ER, Steinau M, Watson M, Huang Y, Copeland G, Cozen W, Goodman MT, Hopenhayn C, Lynch CF, Hernandez BY, Peters ES, Saber MS, Lyu CW, Sands LA, Saraiya M. Prevalence of human papillomavirus types in invasive vulvar cancers and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia 3 in the United States before vaccine introduction. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease 2012;16(4):471–479.

5Presentation at the 28th International Papillomavirus conference, 2012. Puerto Rico. EPO9-728 Population-based HPV genotype distribution in 8 cancers in the United States: potential current and future (9-valent) vaccine protection. Presenter: Mona Saraiya (United States).

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