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HPV and other cancers

Cervical cancer isn’t the only cancer type linked to high-risk HPV. Worldwide, about 5% of all cancers are linked to the virus. Most are linked to high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 – the same types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers.

If you have had high-grade cervical changes or abnormalities (CIN2 or 3) in the past, you have a higher risk of developing a different type of HPV-related abnormality or cancer. This risk is small, but we know it can be worrying, so it may help to be aware of symptoms and speak with your doctor about any concerns.

Other cancers linked to high-risk HPV

Not every case of the cancers listed below is caused by high-risk HPV. But at least some cases are linked to the virus – usually HPV 16 or HPV 18.

High-risk HPV and cancer in women

High-risk HPV and cancer in men

High-risk HPV and cancer in women and men

This chart shows the incidence of cancers that are linked to high-risk HPV. 99.7% of cervical cancers are linked to high-risk HPV, 90% of anal cancers, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, 63% of vaginal cancers, 40% of penile cancers, 40% of vulval cancers, and 8% of mouth cancers.

Changes to cells (abnormalities)

Just like cervical cancer, vaginal, vulval, anal and penile cancer have precancerous stages – changes in the cells (abnormalities) that can develop into cancer:

Sometimes these abnormalities go back to normal without treatment. If they do not and are left untreated, they may develop into cancer. This is why it's important to be aware of the symptoms.

Symptoms of other cancers linked to high-risk HPV

There are no screening programmes for these abnormalities. This is because it is more difficult to find them than it is to find cervical abnormalities. This can be worrying, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms for these cancers.

For each cancer, look out for these symptoms in the relevant area:

  • itching that does not stop (persistent itching)
  • pain
  • bleeding.

More information and support

It may be worrying to hear that high-risk HPV is linked to some other cancers. Remember, if you are have any symptoms or are worried about something, it is important to speak with your doctor. There are also some expert organisations that have more information about other cancers linked to high-risk HPV:

Cancer Research UK (CRUK)

Cancer Research UK's pages provide easy to read information on HPV and all of the cancer types it is linked to. 
www.cancerresearchuk.org

The Eve Appeal

The Eve Appeal fundraises for ground-breaking research focused on the detection, prediction, treatment and care of gynaecological cancers.
www.eveappeal.org.uk

The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation

The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation aims to educate the public about anal cancer, to address the stigma associated with the disease, to advocate for prevention and improved early screening methods, to provide resources for patients, caregivers and members of the medical community.
www.analcancerfoundation.org/

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support produces independent, expert, up-to-date information to meet the information needs of people affected by cancer.  
www.macmillan.org.uk

Mouth Cancer Foundation

The Mouth Cancer Foundation is a professional support organisation solely dedicated to helping people with mouth, throat and other head and neck cancers.
www.mouthcancerfoundation.org

Orchid

Orchid is the UK’s leading charity working on behalf of anyone affected by or interested in male cancer – prostate, testicular and penile cancer. Orchid exists to save men’s lives from male cancer through a range of support services, education and awareness campaigns and a pioneering research programme.
www.orchid-cancer.org.uk/

Show references
  1. Plummer M et al., Global burden of cancers attributable to infections in 2012: a synthetic analysis, The Lancet Global Health, 2016.
  2. World Health Organisation, Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer [Last accessed: April 2018]
  3. Edgren G et al., Risk of anogenital cancer after diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: a prospective population-based study, The Lancet Oncology, 2007.
  4. Ebisch RMF et al., Long-Lasting Increased Risk of Human Papillomavirus–Related Carcinomas and Premalignancies After Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Grade 3: A Population-Based Cohort Study, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2017.
  5. Cancer Research UK, Statistics by cancer type [last accessed: April 2017].
  6. Schache A. et al, HPV-Related Oropharynx Cancer in the United Kingdom: An Evolution in the Understanding of Disease Etiology, Cancer Research, 2016.

 

 

Date last updated: 
17 Aug 2018
Date due for review: 
17 Aug 2020

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