The human papillomavirus – or HPV – remains a very common infection despite preventive measures, including vaccines. This virus, which spreads through skin-to-skin contact, affects approximately 79 million Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 80 percent of sexually active women will be infected with HPV by age 501.

While most HPV infections do not have harmful effects, some high-risk strains of the virus hide in the body for some time and may cause changes on the cellular level that can lead to certain types of cancer including cervical cancer, anal cancer and some head and neck cancers. According to the CDC, there are roughly 38,793 new HPV-associated cancer cases in the United States each year, affecting approximately 23,000 females and 15,793 males.2

of sexually active women will be infected with HPV by age 50
Americans are currently infected with HPV
U.S. HPV-associated cancer cases each year

Cervical cancer, which is the most common HPV-associated cancer in women, is characterized by cancerous malignancies in the cervix. In 2017, it is expected that there will be approximately 12,820 new diagnoses of invasive cervical cancer in the United States,3 and according to company market research, an estimated 16,000 new cases are expected in Europe. An estimated 4,210 women in the United States are expected to die from cervical cancer each year.3

New data published in the journal Cancer in 2017 underscores the need for new therapeutic options as the research shows that the U.S. cervical cancer mortality rate is higher than initially thought. When accounting for hysterectomies, the mortality rate for cervical cancer is 10.1 per 100,000 black women and 4.7 per 100,000 white women, increased from previously recorded rates of 5.7 and 3.2, respectively.

Anal cancer is a fairly rare form of cancer in the United States, but the number of new cases has been rising over the past decade.4 On average, this cancer effects people in their early 60s. In 2017, an estimated 8,200 people in the United States, including 5,250 women and 2,950 men, will develop anal cancer.5 In Europe, there will be an estimated 1 new anal cancer case for every 100,000 males, and 3 in 100,000 females.6 An estimated 650 women and 450 men will die from the disease this year in the U.S.5

While vaccines have proven effective at HPV prevention, they cannot treat or have any affect once the infection is contracted. Likewise, HPV-associated cancers cannot be treated with present-day HPV vaccines. The America Cancer Society recommends all boys and girls start receiving HPV vaccines by age 11 or 12. Young women and men can get the vaccine up to age 26.

Because HPV vaccines have no therapeutic effect on HPV-associated cancers, there is an immediate need for new treatments that do. Until everyone is vaccinated, treatments will be needed, meaning therapeutic options need to be developed for at least the next 50 years.

For more information on HPV, visit the CDC.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV and cancer. Basic information about HPV and cancer. Retrieved on January 30, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/

2 Centers for Disease Control. HPV-Associated Cancers Statistics. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/statistics/index.htm

3 American Cancer Society. What is Cervical Cancer. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/detailedguide/ cervical-cancer-key-statistics

4 National Cancer Institute. Anal Cancer: for patients. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://www.cancer.gov/types/anal

5 American Cancer Society. What are the Key Statistics about Anal Cancer? Retrieved January 30, 2017 from http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/anus.html

6 Anal cancer incidence statistics. Retrieved January 30, 2017 from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/anal-cancer/incidence#heading-Zero