Are You at Risk for Anal Cancer?
Your anal health is probably a topic that doesn’t come up much. Maybe it’s even taboo, but Beverly Hills Center for Digestive Health would like to stress the fact that many people are at increased risk for anal cancer. Did you know that those who have HIV, men who engage in same sex intercourse, and women who’ve experienced precancerous changes found on routine pap screenings are at an increased risk?
Anal Cancer By the Numbers
Over the last three decades, anal cancer cases in the U.S. have doubled. There are close to 7,000 cases of anal cancer every year here in the states. Not to be confused with colon or rectal cancer, anal cancer is mostly caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which has hundreds of subtypes (has also been found to cause cervical cancer in women).
There are 1.2 million people in the U.S. infected with HIV. Half of men and about a fifth of women have HPV-related changes in the cells of the anus. These can develop into anal cancers over the course of years.
For Your Health
The New York State Department of Health recommends annual anal cancer screenings, especially for HIV-infected men and women. One problem is that there are no national screening guidelines. Availability of screening also differs throughout the country.
If you feel that you’re at risk for anal cancer, it’s important to get past any initial embarrassment. Have your doctor perform an anal pap smear.
Pap Smears Worked for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer has diminished significantly in the states due to pap smear implementation. HPV affects the anus the same as it affects the cervix, so any person at increased risk for anal cancer should get this simple test done. All it involves is your doctor inserting and brushing a swab inside the anal canal.
Your sample is then sent to a laboratory where we’ll check for virus subtypes which cause anal warts. We’ll track and note any changes in the cells in the lining of the anus. We identify and biopsy affected tissue, sending it to the pathology lab where we look for signs, pre-malignant cells, or cancerous cells which require additional treatment.
Now is not the time to be shy. It’s the time to stay healthy. If you feel that you are at increased risk for anal cancer, stay ahead of the problem. Contact Beverly Hills Center for Digestive Health. Call our office or visit our website to schedule your consultation today.