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How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?

Each year, about 42,700 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. HPV causes about 33,700 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 These cellular types include carcinomas of the cervix and squamous cell carcinomas of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and oropharynx. 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 squamous cell carcinomas 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 6,530 people are diagnosed with anal cancer each year, and about 91% of anal cancers are thought to be caused by HPV. 91% of 6,530 is about 5,957, 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
Cervix 11,866 91% 10,751
Vagina 846 75% 635
Vulva 3,934 69% 2,707
Penis 1,269 63% 803
Anusb 6,530 91% 5,957
Female 4,333 93% 4,008
Male 2,197 89% 1,949
Oropharynx 18,226 70% 12,885
Female 3,412 63% 2,160
Male 14,814 72% 10,725
TOTAL 42,671 79% 33,737
Female 24,391 83% 20,260
Male 18,280 74% 13,477

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

b Includes anal and rectal squamous cell carcinomas.

Data are from population-based cancer registries participating in CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and/or the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program for 2011 to 2015, covering 100% 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.

Data source: National Program of Cancer Registries SEER*Stat Database: U.S. Cancer Statistics Incidence Analytic file 1998–2015. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Released June 2018, based on the November 2017 submission.

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