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HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity

Some cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) have been linked with HPV. It is estimated that more than 3,100 new cases of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and 12,638 are diagnosed in men each year in the United States.* These numbers are based on cancers in specific areas of the oropharynx and do not include cancers in all areas of the head and neck or oral cavity. Non-Hispanics and men get these cancers more often than Hispanics and women.

*Note: This study used cancer registry data to estimate the amount of HPV-associated cancer in the United States by examining cancer in parts of the body and cancer cell types that are more likely to be caused by HPV. Cancer registries do not collect data on the presence or absence of HPV in cancer tissue at the time of diagnosis. Cancers in this area of the body are often caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 70% of oropharyngeal cancers may be caused by HPV.

HPV-Associated Oropharyngeal Cancer Rates by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex, United States, 2008–2012

Graph showing the age-adjusted incidence rates for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers in the United States during 2008 to 2012.

The graph above shows age-adjusted incidence rates for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers in the United States during 2008–2012. “AI/AN” means American Indian/Alaska Native, and “A/PI” means Asian/Pacific Islander. The rates shown are the number of men or women who were diagnosed with an HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer for every 100,000 men or women.

  • Among whites, about 1.8 women and 8.0 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Among blacks, about 1.5 women and 6.9 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Among American Indian/Alaska Natives, about 0.9 women and 4.4 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Among Asian/Pacific Islanders, about 0.6 women and 2.0 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Among Hispanics, about 0.9 women and 4.2 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Among non-Hispanics, about 1.8 women and 8.0 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer.

This graph was adapted from Viens 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.

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