New research suggests that infection from some strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) - previously linked to genital warts and cervical, anal, and reproductive cancers - also could put a person at higher risk for other cancers, like common non-melanoma skin cancer.
Dr. Susanne Kruger Kjaer, of the Danish Cancer Society, and colleagues looked at the medical records of more than 49,000 men and women diagnosed with genital warts over 30 years in Denmark. Just 2,363 people, less than 5 percent of the study group, developed some form of cancer, of which 305 cases were HPV-related.
Nevertheless, some of the risks were above average, with rates of cervical, penile, vaginal, and mouth and throat cancer ranging from 50 percent to eight times higher than those seen in the general population. Men and women with a history of genital warts had 21 and eight times the average risk, respectively, for anal cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancer was detected in 440 people, less than 1 percent, a finding the researchers said was higher than expected.
Cautioning that there are no "concrete practical implications" from the team's findings, Kjaer said additional research confirming HPV's broader link to cancer could highlight the importance of vaccination to prevent infection. Sanofi Pasteur, seller of the Gardasil HPV vaccine in Europe, funded the study.
The study, "Genital Warts and Risk of Cancer - A Danish Study of Nearly 50,000 Patients with Genital Warts," was published online in the J Infect Dis. 2012 Mar 15;doi:10.1093/infdis/jis228).