Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and can lead to cervical, vulvovaginal, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers. Compared with the general population, US military members are at a higher risk of HPV-related conditions, yet vaccination rates are relatively low in this population. As many service members may not be diagnosed with HPV-related cancers until after they leave active service, the objective of this study was to determine the incidence, prevalence, and economic burden of HPV-related cancers among US veterans.



The study used the 2014-2018 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) database to identify newly diagnosed adult patients (cases) with HPV-related cancers including cervical, vulvovaginal, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers. Cases were matched by age, race, and sex to patients without HPV related cancer (controls). Outcome measures included annual incidence, prevalence, health care resource utilization (HCRU), and costs. These outcomes were calculated from the index date (first cancer diagnosis) through the earliest of 24 months, death, or end of study period. Adjusted results were examined using generalized linear models.



The annual prevalence and incidence rates of HPV-related cancers ranged from 43 (anal) to 790 (oropharyngeal) cases per million (CPM), and 4 (anal) to 131 (cervical) CPM, respectively. Compared with controls, cases had significantly higher annual HCRU. Mean number of annual inpatient hospitalizations were several times higher compared to controls (cervical: 6.7 times (x); vulvovaginal: 2.7x; penile: 6.6x; oropharyngeal: 10.2x; and anal: 14.9x; all p < 0.01). Similarly, cases had significantly higher all-cause healthcare costs vs. matched controls across all cancer types: cervical ($24,252 vs $10,402), vulvovaginal ($34,801 vs $10,913), penile ($42,772 vs $9,139), oropharyngeal ($82,763 vs $10,017), and anal ($98,146 vs $8,339); (all p < 0.01).



HPV-related cancers may cause significant clinical and economic burden within the VHA system. Given the consequences of HPV-related cancers among veterans who did not have access to the vaccine, HPV vaccination of active military and eligible veterans should be considered a healthcare priority.

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