Cancers Associated with Human Papillomavirus, United States—2014–2018

U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Briefs, No. 26
December 2021

Based on data from 2014 to 2018, about 46,143 new cases of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers occurred in the United States each year, including about 25,719 among women and about 20,424 among men.

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Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer among women, and oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are the most common among men.

HPV is a recognized cause of cancer. Although most HPV infections are asymptomatic and clear spontaneously, persistent infections can progress to precancer or cancer. HPV causes most cervical cancers, as well as some cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Cancer registries do not routinely collect information about HPV status, so in this report, HPV-associated cancers are defined as those that occur in parts of the body where HPV is often found.

Figure 1. Number of New HPV-Associated Cancer Cases Each Year

Figure 2. Rate of HPV-Associated Cancers by Sex and Cancer Type

The incidence rate of HPV-associated cancers varied by cancer type, sex, and race/ethnic group. Women had higher incidence than men, except for the oropharynx site. White men and women had the highest incidence rates, and Asian/Pacific Islander men and women had the lowest incidence rates compared with other racial groups.

Figure 3. Rate of HPV-Associated Cancers by Sex and Race/Ethnic Group

The incidence rate of HPV-associated cancers varied by cancer type, sex, and race/ethnic group. Women had higher incidence than men, except for the oropharynx site. White men and women had the highest incidence rates, and Asian/Pacific Islander men and women had the lowest incidence rates compared with other racial groups.

Figure 4. Estimated Annual Number of Cancer Cases Attributable to HPV by Sex, Cancer Type, and HPV Type

An HPV-attributable cancer is a cancer probably caused by HPV. HPV-attributable cancers are estimated by multiplying the number of HPV-associated cancers by the percentage attributable to HPV based on a CDC genotyping study. We estimated that 36,500 cancers (79%) were attributable to HPV each year during 2014–2018. Of these, we estimated that 33,700 cancers could have been prevented by the 9-valent HPV vaccine, including 29,500 caused by HPV types 16 and 18 and 4,200 caused by HPV types 31/33/45/52/58. HPV-negative cancers are not shown in the graph; it is estimated that about 10% of cervical and anal cancers, 30% of oropharyngeal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, and 40% of penile cancers are HPV-negative.

HPV vaccination is recommended for girls and boys 11 to 12 years old, and catch-up HPV vaccination for all adults through age 26 years. Catch-up vaccination is not recommended for persons aged ≥26 years because the benefit of HPV vaccination decreases in older age groups; however, vaccination can be based on shared clinical decision making for persons aged 27–45 years.

Data Source

Data in this brief come from U.S. Cancer Statistics, the official federal cancer statistics.

U.S. Cancer Statistics incidence data are from population-based registries that participate in CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and/or the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and met high-quality data for the 2020 data submission period, covering 98% of the U.S. population (excluding data from Nevada). Population-based cancer registries do not routinely collect information about HPV status; however, the data can be used to monitor the number and trends of cancers associated with HPV and estimate the number probably caused by HPV. The analysis and methods were based on: Viens et al. Human papillomavirus-associated cancers—United States, 2008–2012. MMWR 2016;65(26):661–666.

Notes About the Data

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, and oropharynx.

An HPV-attributable cancer is a cancer probably caused by HPV. Based on a CDC study that used population-based data to genotype HPV types from cancer tissue, about 90% of cervical and anal cancers, 70% of oropharyngeal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, and 60% of penile cancers are attributable to HPV.

*Includes anal and rectal squamous cell carcinomas.

Suggested Citation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancers Associated with Human Papillomavirus, United States—2014–2018. USCS Data Brief, no. 26. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2021.

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Page last reviewed: December 10, 2021