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How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?

Each year, about 38,793 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. HPV causes about 30,700 of these cancers.

Number of HPV-Associated Cancer Cases per Year

An HPV-associated cancer is a specific cellular type of cancer that is diagnosed in a part of the body where HPV is often found. These parts of the body include the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).1 2 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 studies3 4 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 vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and oropharynx. A CDC study5 used population-based data from cancer tissue to estimate the percentage of these cancers that are probably caused by HPV. Since rectal cancer was not included in the CDC genotyping study, the percentage of anal cancer caused by HPV was used because recent studies have shown that the HPV-associated types of anal and rectal cancer are similar.2

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 5,010 people are diagnosed with anal cancer each year, and about 91% of anal cancers are thought to be caused by HPV. 91% of 5,010 is about 4,600, as shown in the table below.

  • About 79% of anal cancers are probably caused by two types of HPV: 16 and 18.
    79% of 5,010 is about 4,000, as shown in the table below.
  • About 8% of anal cancers are probably caused by HPV types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
    8% of 5,010 is about 400, as shown in the table below.
Number of HPV-Associated and HPV-Attributable Cancer Cases per Year
Cancer site Average number of cancers per year in sites where HPV is often found (HPV-associated cancers) Percentage probably caused by any HPV typea Number probably caused by any HPV typea Percentage probably caused by HPV types 16/18b Number probably caused by HPV types 16/18b Percentage probably caused by HPV types 31/33/45/52/58c Number probably caused by HPV types 31/33/45/52/58c
Cervix 11,771 91% 10,700 66% 7,800 15% 1,700
Vagina 802 75% 600 55% 400 18% 100
Vulva 3,554 69% 2,400 49% 1,700 14% 500
Penis 1,168 63% 700 48% 600 9% 100
Anus 5,010 91% 4,600 79% 4,000 8% 400
Female 3,260 93% 3,000 80% 2,600 11% 400
Male 1,750 89% 1,600 79% 1,400 4% 100
Rectum 750 91% 700 79% 600 8% 100
Female 513 93% 500 80% 400 11% 100
Male 237 89% 200 79% 200 4% <100
Oropharynx 15,738 70% 11,000 60% 9,500 6% 900
Female 3,100 63% 2,000 51% 1,600 10% 300
Male 12,638 72% 9,100 63% 8,000 4% 600
TOTAL 38,793   30,700   24,600   3,800

aHPV types detected in genotyping study; most were high-risk HPV types known to cause cancer (Saraiya M et al. US assessment of HPV types in cancers: implications for current and 9-valent HPV vaccines. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2015;107:djv086).

bHPV types 16/18 can be prevented by the bivalent, quadrivalent, and 9-valent HPV vaccines.

cHPV types 31/33/45/52/58 can be prevented by the 9-valent HPV vaccine.

Stacked bar chart showing the average number of new cases of cancer in parts of the body where HPV is often found, and the number and percentage of cancers that are probably caused by HPV.

*HPV DNA was not detected in a percentage of cancers (Saraiya M et al. US assessment of HPV types in cancers: implications for current and 9-valent HPV vaccines. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2015;107:djv086).

Data are from all states meeting USCS publication criteria for all years 2008 to 2012 and cover about 99% 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, 51, 52, 90, 91, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 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

1International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Volume 90: Human papillomaviruses. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization; 2007.

2Shiels MS, Kreimer AR, Coghill AE, Darragh TM, Devesa SS. Anal cancer incidence in the United States, 1977–2011: distinct patterns by histology and behavior. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2015;24:1548–1556.

3Viens LJ, Henley SJ, Watson M, Markowitz LE, Thomas CC, Thompson TD, Razzaghi H, Saraiya M, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Human papillomavirus–associated cancers—United States, 2008–2012. MMWR 2016;65(26):661–666.

4Supplement: Assessing the Burden of HPV-Associated Cancers in the United States. Cancer 2008;113(S10):2837–3057.

5Saraiya M, Unger ER, Thompson TD, Lynch CF, Hernandez BY, Lyu CW, Steinau M, Watson M, Wilkinson EJ, Hopenhayn C, Copeland G, Cozen W, Peters ES, Huang Y, Saber MS, Altekruse S, Goodman MT; HPV Typing of Cancers Workgroup. US assessment of HPV types in cancers: implications for current and 9-valent HPV vaccines. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2015;107:djv086.

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