What is the association between HPV infection and cancer?

Persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the major cause of cervical cancer. In 2007, it was estimated that 11,000 women in the United States would be diagnosed with this type of cancer and nearly 4,000 would die from it. Cervical cancer strikes nearly half a million women each year worldwide, claiming a quarter of a million lives. Studies also suggest that HPVs may play a role in some cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, and penile cancer (cancer of the penis).

Studies have also found that oral HPV infection is a strong risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer (cancer that forms in tissues of the oropharynx, which is the middle part of the throat and includes the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils). Researchers found that an oral HPV infection and past HPV exposure increase the risk of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer, regardless of tobacco and alcohol use, two other important risk factors for this disease.

However, combining HPV exposure and heavy tobacco and alcohol use did not have an additive effect.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute

 Dr. Diane Harper
Health Education

Not all strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cancer. In this video, HPV expert Dr. Diane Harper explains how HPV can cause cancer and when it's most likely to happen.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.