HPV, or human papilloma virus, causes several cancers. It causes infections on the skin and the genitals, and some of the symptomless genital HPV infections develop into cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis and anus. HPV can also cause cancers in the head and neck area.
The HPV vaccine helps to prevent cervical cancer and its precancerous conditions. In addition, it can prevent some cancers of the vagina and vulva, of the head and neck area and the anus. The vaccination is most effective when it is given before the individual is sexually active.