An HPV infection can severely affect the cells in multiple body parts, including part of the tongue, oropharynx, cervix, vulva, penis, anus, and soft palate. Worst of all, cancer cells may form in these body parts without fast and consistent treatment early in the infection. Then your life will be at risk if left untreated.
When an HPV infection causes cancer, doctors often refer to it as squamous cell carcinoma because the virus attacks the squamous cells of the organs. These cells exist within the inner surface of each organ. But if the HPV infection attacks the cervix’s gland cells, you’ll develop a type of cervical cancer named adenocarcinoma.
The Top 6 Cancers from HPV
Do you wonder how many different cancers form from an HPV infection? Below are the top 6 cancers you should know about if you have an HPV infection:
1) Cervical Cancer
HPV is responsible for most cervical cancers. For this reason, anyone with an HPV infection should schedule regular cervical cancer screenings with their local doctor or healthcare provider. If the precancerous cells are discovered early, the doctor can remove them before they become cancerous.
2) Oropharyngeal Cancer
Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of cancer of the throat. Most people who get oropharyngeal cancer from an HPV infection will get it around the rear of the tongue, such as on the tonsils.
In the United States, oropharyngeal cancer is one the most diagnosed HPV-based cancer facing Americans infected with HPV. That is why it is crucial to receive regular throat checkups to ensure you don’t have cancer in your oral cavity region.
3) Anal Cancer
HPV infections are responsible for more than 90% of most cases of anal cancer in the United States. Sadly, an increasing number of people are dying from anal cancer annually. Women should pay particular attention to this statistic because twice as many women die from anal cancer than men.
4) Penile Cancer
HPV infections are responsible for more than 60% of penile cancer cases in the United States. The good news is that penile cancer is less common than other HPV-based cancers.
5) Vaginal Cancer
HPV infections are responsible for nearly 75% of vaginal cancer cases in the United States. It is also another rare HPV-based cancer.
6) Vulvar Cancer
HPV infections cause approximately 70% of vulvar cancer cases.
Worldwide HPV Cancer Rates
According to the CDC, roughly 36,000 additional cases of HPV-based cancer are reported yearly. HPV infections cause approximately 3% of the total cancer cases involving women and around 2% of the total cancer cases involving men.
Remember, these are only statistics concerning men and women in the United States. On an international scale, HPV infections are responsible for around 5% of the total cancer cases in countries worldwide. This means about 60,000 adult men and 570,000 adult women get diagnosed with HPV-based cancer annually.
The most common HPV-based cancer diagnosis is cervical cancer, which causes the most cancer deaths in poor to moderate-income nations. These are countries where people have limited access to essential medical services and cervical cancer screening tests.
HPV-Based Cancer Screening in the United States
It is unfortunate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any tests for spotting and diagnosing HPV infections in the body, such as in the penile or anal tissues. But even though there are no FDA-approved HPV infection or cancer tests, you can still elect to receive a screening test recommended by your doctor.
Medical research studies continuously experiment with various cancer testing methods to determine the best ones for spotting precancerous cells in common HPV-infected areas. These areas include the penile, vulvar, anal, oropharyngeal, and vaginal tissues. If your doctor can detect precancerous cells in these tissues early enough, they can be treated before growing into cancerous cells.
For example, the anal pap test (or anal pap smear) is the most recommended anal cancer screening method for HIV-positive people or gay men with an anal HPV infection. Medical research studies have proven the anal pap test the most effective at detecting precancerous cells or premature cell changes.
However, some forms of HPV-based cancer have no recommended screening tests, such as oral cancer. The U.S. Preventive Task Force believes the current medical studies into oral cancer screening haven’t shown sufficient evidence of their reliability, especially when testing asymptomatic adults. But if you receive regular dental checkups, your dentist will notice signs of oral cancer if it exists as they examine your mouth.