HPV and Cancer Facts
HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is a very common virus. We worry about HPV because some types can cause cancer. Other types can cause skin warts on the hands, feet, and genitals. Here, we focus on the types that can cause cancer.
HPV can cause cancer of the:
- cervix (part of the womb; cervical cancer)
- anus (anal cancer)
- back of the throat (oropharynx) or mouth (oropharyngeal cancer)
- vulva and vagina (vulvar and vaginal cancer)
- penis (penile cancer)
You can get HPV from skin-to-skin sexual contact. This usually means:
- vaginal sex
- anal sex
- oral sex
But it is also possible to get HPV from touching the genital area and sharing sex toys. It is very unlikely to get HPV from kissing.
- Try to avoid getting HPV by getting vaccinated and using condoms (see above).
- Go for cervical screening if it’s available. Cervical screening aims to detect the cell changes caused by HPV so that the abnormal cells can be removed before they can turn into cancer. Many countries offer cervical screening- ask your healthcare provider for more information.
- Screening for changes caused by HPV in the anus is also available in some locations. Anal screening is relatively new and is still very limited- ask your healthcare provider for more information.
- If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking can make it harder for your immune system to get rid of HPV.
- If you have any symptoms or changes to your body that are unusual for you, such as pain in the anal or genital area, a new growth or lump, or bleeding, get them checked by a healthcare provider.
Yes. This virus is very common and can stay in a person’s body for decades without causing symptoms.
HPV Cancer and You.
HPV is a very common virus - almost all of us will have it at some point. If you have HPV, it doesn't mean that you will get cancer, but it does increase your risk of certain kinds of cancer.
Read another story about anal cancer.
Create your social media message for International HPV Awareness Day
We can all take action to reduce the harm of HPV. Our social post builder is an easy way to share a simple personal message about how vaccination and screening means #onelessworry for the world
Your HPV Story
Everyone is affected by HPV - either directly or indirectly. Sharing our stories is a great way to raise awareness of the impact of HPV and to reduce the stigma that increases everyone's risk.