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At Least 25,000 HPV-Linked Cancers a Year

CDC Releases Data From 38 States and District of Columbia
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 3, 2008 -- About 25,000 cases of cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) occurred annually in 38 states and Washington, D.C., between 1998 and 2003, says a new report by the CDC.

"These estimates of HPV-associated cancers were collected prior to the development of the HPV vaccine," says Mona Saraiya, MD, a medical officer in the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, in a news release. "This gives us baseline data to measure the impact of HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening programs in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer and other HPV-associated cancers and pre-cancers."

The analysis was the first and most comprehensive assessment of HPV-associated cancer data in the U.S., the CDC says in a news release.

The HPV vaccine, called Gardasil, causes no major safety problems, according to information presented at the CDC's meeting last month of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent panel of health experts that advises the federal agency.

Gardasil protects against infection of four types of HPV, responsible for cervical cancer and genital warts. The top HPV-associated cancer sites also include the oral cavity and oropharynx (throat), the anus, vulva, penis, and vagina.

The CDC says more than 30 HPV types can be sexually transmitted. Most people with HPV infection don't develop symptoms or health problems.

The CDC report says there were 10,800 HPV-related cancers of the cervix annually during the study period, 7,400 of the oral cavity and oropharynx, 3,000 anal cancer cases, 2,300 cases of vulvar cancer, and about 800 of penile cancer. About 600 women per year developed vaginal cancers related to HPV, with incidence rates higher among black women than white women, the report says.

Women with a history of cervical cancer have an increased risk of developing noninvasive cancers of the vagina and vulva as well as invasive cancers of the vulva, rectum, and vagina, the CDC's report says.

A survey presented at the meeting last month showed that 98% of pediatricians and 88% of family doctors are administering Gardasil to their female patients.

Gardasil was developed from research that began in the 1980s. The drug, manufactured by Merck, was approved by the FDA two years ago.

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