The Grapevine

5 Sexually Transmitted Cancers; Symptoms To Know, Treatments, And Diagnosis

While we don’t often think of cancer as being a contagious disease, forms of cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be sexually transmitted. Here is a list of some of the types of cancer that can be spread and contracted via sexual contact.


Oral cancer describes cancers which occur in the head, mouth, and throat. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, around 48,000 Americans are diagnosed with an oral cancer each year, and of these individuals, around 9.500 will die. Depending on the form of oral cancer, early signs may include abnormal growths. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the most common treatment options for these forms of cancer.

HPV is the leading cause of throat cancer. When the virus comes in contact with the epithelial cells of skin and mucosa via oral sex, they can cause cancer to form. Thankfully, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancers caused by HPV are also more responsive to existing treatment options than all forms of oral cancer.

mouth Many forms of oral cancer, such as cancer of the mouth or throat, can be sexually transmitted and caused by the STD human papillomavirus (HPV). Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


In the case of anal cancer, malignant cells form in the tissues of the anus. According to The National Institute of Health, HPV increases the risk of developing anal cancer and most cases of squamous cell anal cancer, the most common form, are linked to HPV infections.

Signs of anal cancer include anal bleeding, lumps found near the anus, and changes in bowel movements. Depending on the stage of cancer, anal cancer is most commonly treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.


At one point cervical cancer was the number one common cause of cancer death for American women, but increased diagnosis methods thanks to the widespread use of the Pap test has drastically lowered the number of women who pass away from this illness. Unfortunately, this cancer usually has no outward symptoms in its early stages, which is why regular Pap tests are so important.

According to The American Cancer Society, doctors believe that a woman must be infected with HPV in order to develop cervical cancer. Although it may be possible to contract the virus from sex toys and even gym equipment, the most common way for a woman to become infected with HPV is sexual activity with an infected partner. Depending on the stage of the cancer, cervical cancer is usually treated with either radiation or chemotherapy.


Although not as common or well known as prostate cancer, penis or penile cancer is a cancer of the reproductive organs. According to The American Cancer Society, there are about 2,030 new cases of penile cancer a year, and 340 deaths.

Cancer Research UK reports that although HPV is not the only cause of penile cancer, 47 percent of men with penile cancer also have HPV infections. Signs of penile cancer include sores, redness, irritation, discharge, bleeding, or a lump on the penis. This cancer can be treated either through surgery to remove the cancerous growth or radiation treatment.


Vaginal cancer includes cancer of the vaginal canal, and vulvar cancer is cancer of the outer female genitals. According to The American Cancer Society, more than half of all vulvar cancers are linked to HPV infections, and HPV infections also increase the risk of developing vaginal cancer.

Although there is some evidence for alternate routes of HPV infection, at the moment, the only proven way to contract the virus is via sexual activity.

Early signs of vaginal and vulvar cancers include abnormal bleeding and growths, but there is no standard screening for this disease. Both cancers are highly treatable when caught early, usually through radiation or chemotherapy.

Read More:

HPV In Men vs. Women: What You Need To Know About Human Papillomavirus, The ‘Silent Killer’: Read Here

HPV May Cause A Genital Infection That Leads To Cancer, And Not Just Cervical: Read Here