There are many common misconceptions about HPV, vulvar cancer and the connection between the two, but what are the facts? To begin, it’s important to understand what HPV is. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a group of related viruses that cause the growth of papillomas (warts). Different types of HPV cause warts to grow in different areas of the body, but most of these types are considered to be low-risk HPV and are rarely linked to cancer. High-risk HPV (such as HPV 16 and HPV 18) has been linked to certain cancers, including vulvar cancer.
The connection between HPV and vulvar cancer
Experts believe there are two ways that the most common type of vulvar cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, can develop. In about 50 percent of cases of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma, human papillomavirus plays a significant role in the development of the cancer. These cases are most often found in young women, especially those who are smokers. Furthermore, vulvar cancers that are associated with HPV tend to be the basaloid and warty subtypes.
It is important to note, however, that the second way vulvar cancer develops is not linked to HPV at all. This kind (the keratinizing subtype) is most often found in women over the age of 55 and is believed to be caused by mutations of the p53 tumor suppressor gene.
Vulvar cancer treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
Comprehensive treatment for women with vulvar cancer is available at Moffitt Cancer Center. The experts in our gynecological clinic have unparalleled experience treating all types of this malignancy and collaborate to ensure each patient’s treatment plan addresses the challenges of her unique cancer. Eligible patients may have the opportunity to participate in one of our groundbreaking clinical trials, where they can benefit from the most recent breakthroughs in treatment before they are made available elsewhere. Our commitment to advancing cancer research and treatment has led to our designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, and we are the only such center that is based in Florida.