Assessment of HPV Types in Cancers

A CDC study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute tested tissue samples of the types of cancers that are known to be associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) to see what HPV types were found in the cancers. Researchers tested the types of HPV in cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) from seven cancer registries. This information can be used to estimate the percentage and numbers of these six HPV-associated cancers that HPV vaccines could prevent. The study found that if everyone was vaccinated as recommended using the bivalent HPV vaccine, close to 25,000 HPV-associated cancers could be prevented in the United States each year. If everyone was vaccinated as recommended using the new 9-valent HPV vaccine, about 29,000 cancers can be prevented each year.

Key Findings

  • More than 80% of all cervical cancers can be prevented with the 9-valent HPV vaccine, offering 15% more protection than previous vaccines.
  • The 9-valent vaccine can potentially protect against an additional 18% of vaginal, 14% of vulvar, 9% of penile, 8% of anal, and 6% of oropharyngeal cancers.
  • Women with cervical cancer that was HVP 16 or 18 were often diagnosed at a younger age than women who had other HPV types or women without HPV.
  • The potential protection of HPV vaccines does not differ by race or ethnicity for invasive cervical, vulvar, penile, and anal cancers.
  • African Americans with invasive oropharyngeal cancer were less likely to have HPV compared with members of other racial and ethnic groups.
  • HPV was found in 91% of cervical and anal cancers, 75% of vaginal cancers, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, 69% of vulvar cancers, and 63% of penile cancers.

About This Study

This study shows the feasibility of using cancer registries to assess the potential impact of HPV vaccines on cancers in the United States. The researchers used demographic and clinical data from cancer registries for Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Los Angeles County, and Michigan. The researchers also compared the sample of cancer cases that they tested to other cancer cases in each state and found no differences in the distribution of cases by sex or age. This will be important for measuring the impact of HPV vaccine in these states in the future.

Cancer registries do not collect information about HPV type regularly. The findings from this study provide an important starting point for more accurate estimates of the HPV-associated cancers that can be prevented with HPV vaccines in the United States.


Saraiya M, Unger E, 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.external icon Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2015;107(6):djv086.