December 8, 2021

New Paper Sheds Light on HPV-Related Cancers Landscape

By Monica Lefton, SWHR Communications Manager.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections cause more than 35,900 cancers annually in the United States, and cervical cancer is the most prevalent HPV-related malignancy in women. Recent studies show the United States lags behind other developed countries like the United Kingdom when it comes to HPV vaccination and subsequent cervical cancer incidence rates. While cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined significantly in the United States since the 1970’s thanks to vaccination and screening efforts, it is still the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in women globally. Over 14,400 women in the United States are estimated to be diagnosed with a new case of cervical cancer in 2021 alone. 

Overall, HPV-related anogenital cancers occur more often in women than in men. The HPV virus is responsible for an estimated 75% of vaginal cancers, 69% of vulvar cancers, 63% of penile cancers, and 91% of anal cancers, but these diseases often garner limited research, surveillance, and attention when compared to cervical cancer, further enhancing care and outcome disparities for the women affected by them. While there currently exists a comprehensive approach to mitigating HPV-related cervical diseases, there remains opportunities to innovate and close clinical care gaps that exist for anogenital cancers, particularly in the United States.  

To expand the current body of work on HPV and women’s health, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) held a roundtable meeting in June 2020 and a public forum in November 2020 to address barriers to HPV-related disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Insights from HPV researchers and clinicians alongside HPV-related anogenital cancer patients and advocates have been captured by SWHR and published in a new Journal of Women’s Health article, “Gaps and Opportunities to Improve Prevention of Human Papillomavirus-Related Cancers.”

The article summarizes the discussions at these events, focusing on themes that arose as they relate to opportunities for advancement and innovation in the prevention and early detection of HPV-related anogenital cancers and on the current state of HPV-related disease management to improve women’s health care and quality of life. There is still much to be done to prevent and address HPV-related anogenital cancers in the United States.

Download The HPV Paper

This program was supported by an educational sponsorship from Inovio. SWHR maintains editorial control and independence over educational content.