American Journal of Cancer

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 49–64 | Cite as

The Role of Human Papillomaviruses in Cancer

Evidence to Date
  • Andrea R. Spence
  • Eduardo L. Franco
  • Alex Ferenczy
Review Article


The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been implicated in the development of an estimated 10% of cancers worldwide. Both epidemiologic and molecular evidence have conclusively demonstrated that oncogenic HPV is the central causal agent of cervical cancer and of a substantial proportion of many other anogenital neoplasms. In fact, it is believed that HPV is the necessary cause of cervical cancer, which has implications for the prevention, screening, and treatment of this disease, especially for its precursor lesions.

This has led to the possibility of using HPV DNA testing in screening and as a method of triaging abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) tests. Research into the development of vaccines is also currently very active. HPV has been implicated in the genesis of several other cancers, such as oral and non-melanoma skin malignancies. However, research is yet to provide a consistent body of unequivocal evidence for a causal role that could lead to public health policy.


Cervical Cancer Anal Cancer Invasive Cervical Cancer Penile Cancer Long Control Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research by the authors on human papillomaviruses and cancers has been funded in part by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and National Cancer Institute of Canada, and by the US National Institutes of Health. Alex Ferenczy and Eduardo L. Franco have conducted research that used commercially available human papillomavirus tests. Eduardo Franco is a recipient of a Distinguished Scientist Award from the CIHR and of a National Scholar Award from the Fonds de la Recherche en santé du Québec.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea R. Spence
    • 1
  • Eduardo L. Franco
    • 1
  • Alex Ferenczy
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Oncology and EpidemiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PathologySir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital and McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General HospitalMontrealCanada

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