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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Estimation of the epidemiological burden of human papillomavirus-related cancers and non-malignant diseases in men in Europe: a review

Susanne Hartwig1*, Stina Syrjänen2, Géraldine Dominiak-Felden1, Maria Brotons3 and Xavier Castellsagué34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Sanofi Pasteur MSD, Lyon, France

2 Department of Oral Radiology and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Dentistry and MediCity Research Laboratory, Turku, Finland

3 Cancer Epidemiology Research Program, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Institut Català d'Oncologia (ICO)-IDIBELL, Catalonia, Spain

4 CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:30  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-30

Published: 20 January 2012



The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in malignant and non-malignant genital diseases in women is well known and the corresponding epidemiological burden has been widely described. However, less is known about the role of HPV in anal, penile and head and neck cancer, and the burden of malignant and non-malignant HPV-related diseases in men. The objective of this review is to estimate the epidemiological burden of HPV-related cancers and non-malignant diseases in men in Europe.


The annual number of new HPV-related cancers in men in Europe was estimated using Eurostat population data and applying cancer incidence rates published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The number of cancer cases attributable to HPV, and specifically to HPV16/18, was calculated based on the most relevant prevalence estimates. The annual number of new cases of genital warts was calculated from the most robust European studies; and latest HPV6/11 prevalence estimates were then applied. A literature review was also performed to retrieve exhaustive data on HPV infection at all anatomical sites under study, as well as incidence and prevalence of external genital warts, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis and HPV-related cancer trends in men in Europe.


A total of 72, 694 new cancer cases at HPV-related anatomical sites were estimated to occur each year in men in Europe. 17,403 of these cancer cases could be attributable to HPV, with 15,497 of them specifically attributable to HPV16/18. In addition, between 286,682 and 325,722 new cases of genital warts attributable to HPV6/11were estimated to occur annually in men in Europe.


The overall estimated epidemiological burden of HPV-related cancers and non-malignant diseases is high in men in Europe. Approximately 30% of all new cancer cases attributable to HPV16/18 that occur yearly in Europe were estimated to occur in men. As in women, the vast majority of HPV-positive cancer in men is related to HPV16/18, while almost all HPV-related non-malignant diseases are due to HPV6/11. A substantial number of these malignant and non-malignant diseases may potentially be prevented by quadrivalent HPV vaccination.

HPV; Epidemiology; Cancer; Genital warts; Condylomata acuminata; Men; Europe