Survival outcomes are highly disparate among US patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers, based sex, race, and age, according to a study published in Cancer.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is highly associated with cervical and anal cancers, but can also increase the risk of vulvar, vaginal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers. For this study, researchers investigated how certain demographic factors can affect survival rates for this patient population.

A total of 220,211 patients with HPV-associated cancers were identified from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Program of Cancer Registries; the most prevalent cancers were oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC; 36.4%), cervical carcinoma (36.1%), and anal SCC (11.8%). Investigators assessed 5-year relative survival based on age, race, and sex from initial diagnosis until death.

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Once standardized for age, 5-year relative survival rate was 66% for vulvar SCCs, 65.9% for anal SCCs, 64.2% for cervical carcinomas, 56.2% for rectal SCC, 52.8% for vaginal SCCs, 51.2% for oropharyngeal SCCs, and 47.4% for penile SCCs. Results showed that older patients typically had poorer survival outcomes, but a slightly improved 5-year age-standardized relative survival rate was observed for patients aged 40 to 49 years at diagnosis with vaginal SCC, vulvar SCC, and anal SCC, compared with patients younger than 40 years at time of diagnosis for the same cancers.

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Five-year relative survival was higher among white patients for all HPV-associated cancers compared with black patients for all age groups. The greatest difference in survival by race was observed among patients with penile cancer ages 40 to 49 years, and for patients with oropharyngeal SCC who were younger than 60 years.

Male patients with HPV-associated anal cancer were more likely to die sooner compared with female.

The authors concluded, “HPV vaccination and improved access to screening and treatment, especially among groups that experience higher incidence and lower survival, may reduce disparities in survival from HPV-associated cancers.”


Razzaghi H, Saraiya M, Thompson TD, Henley SJ, Viens L, Wilson R. Five-year relative survival for human papillomavirus-associated cancer sites [published online November 6, 2017]. Cancer. doi:  10.1002/cncr.30947