Human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide, has an established role in the pathogenesis of genital malignancies such as cervical cancer. The virus has also been implicated in the oncogenesis of nongenital cancers including head and neck malignancies (specifically oropharyngeal cancers) as well as anal cancer. There is less clarity regarding its role in lung and esophageal cancers. Worldwide, the incidence and prevalence of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer has been increasing over time. These patients have improved outcomes compared with those with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancers, and there is continued interest in designing treatments specifically for this HPV-positive subgroup. Clinicians continue to gain an understanding of HPV in anal cancers and the risk factors associated with infection and progression to malignancy. This has potential implications for the eventual screening of high-risk groups. While HPV vaccination is currently approved for the prevention of cervical cancer, it also has potential in the prevention of all HPV-associated malignancies. In this review, current understanding of the role of HPV in nongenital cancers is discussed, as well as future implications for treatment and prevention.
Copyright © 2012 American Cancer Society, Inc.