Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection. More than 90 percent of sexually active men and 80 percent of sexually active women will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.1
Around 50 percent of HPV infections involve certain high-risk types of HPV, which can cause cancer. Most of the time, the body clears these infections and they do not lead to cancer. However, persistent infections can cause changes that lead to cancer.1
These cancers, often caused by these viruses, are HPV-associated cancers and include cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, rectal and oropharyngeal (mouth and pharynx) cancers.
Minnesotans diagnosed with HPV-associated cancers
From 2011 to 2016, just over 3,300 Minnesotans were diagnosed with an HPV-associated cancer, which is approximately 657 a year. The age-adjusted incidence rate was 10.4 per 100,000 people.
- In women, there were 1,795 cases, or about 360 per year. The age adjusted incidence rate was 11.5 per 100,000 people.
- In men, 1,492 cases, or about 298 per year. The age adjusted incidence rate was 9.3 per 100,000 people.
Minnesota’s HPV-associated cancers are increasing
Increases in oropharyngeal (mouth and pharynx) cancer, especially in men, and anal cancer have driven a rise in HPV-associated cancer since 2004. However, cervical cancer rates have been decreasing, primarily because of the success of screening programs.
- The most common types of HPV-associated cancer are cervical cancer for women, and oropharyngeal (mouth and pharynx) cancer for men.
HPV-associated cancers are preventable
Though incidence rates are not high compared to other cancers, HPV-associated cancers are highly preventable.
- For cervical cancer, pap smears have proven to be an effective screening method, and can help catch precancerous lesions before they become cancer. Screening programs have driven the decrease in cervical cancer that’s been seen in recent decades.
- A vaccine is available that can prevent HPV infection for the most common high-risk types. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could prevent over 70 percent of HPV related cancers.2
HPV-associated cancer risk factors
- High-risk sexual behaviors, such as early onset of sexual activity and having multiple partners, increase the risk of HPV infection, and therefore of developing HPV-associated cancers.3
- Those with suppressed immune systems (like people who have HIV) also have an increased risk of developing HPV-associated cancer.3 These people have an increased risk of having a persistent HPV infection.
- Tobacco use has also been associated with increased risk of many HPV-associated cancers.3
HPV-Associated Cancer: Facts & Figures (PDF) - This document provides additional analyses and graphs incidence in Minnesota.
Distribution Date: August 2019
1HPV and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-and-cancer
2HPV and Cancer. (2017, March 03). Retrieved June 23, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/statistics/cases.htm
3Wakeham, K., & Kavanagh, K. (2014). The Burden of HPV-Associated Anogenital Cancers. Current Oncology Reports, 16(9). doi:10.1007/s11912-014-0402-4