HPV prophylactic vaccines and the potential prevention of noncervical cancers in both men and women

Cancer. 2008 Nov 15;113(10 Suppl):3036-46. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23764.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer. In addition, on the basis of the fulfillment of a combination of viral as well as epidemiological criteria, it is currently accepted that a proportion of anal, oropharyngeal, vulvar, and vaginal cancers among women and anal, oropharyngeal, and penile cancers among men are etiologically related to HPV. At these noncervical sites with etiologic heterogeneity, HPV-associated cancers represent a distinct clinicopathological entity, which is generally characterized by a younger age at onset, basaloid or warty histopathology, association with sexual behavior, and better prognosis, when compared with their HPV-negative counterparts. Currently available estimates indicate that the number of HPV-associated noncervical cancers diagnosed annually in the US roughly approximates the number of cervical cancers, with an equal number of noncervical cancers among men and women. Furthermore, whereas the incidence of cervical cancers has been decreasing over time, the incidence of anal and oropharyngeal cancers, for which there are no effective or widely used screening programs, has been increasing in the US. The efficacy of HPV vaccines in preventing infection at sites other than the cervix, vagina, and vulva should, therefore, be assessed (eg, oral and anal). Given that a substantial proportion of cervical cancers (approximately 70%) and an even greater proportion of HPV-associated noncervical cancers (approximately 86% to 95%) are caused by HPV16 and 18 (HPV types that are targeted by the currently available vaccines), current HPV vaccines may hold great promise (provided equivalent efficacy at all relevant anatomic sites) in reducing the burden of HPV-associated noncervical cancers, in addition to cervical cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / virology*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines