WHAT IS ANAL CANCER?
Anal cancer arises from the cells around the anal opening (anal verge) or within the anal canal (1-2 inches inside the anus).
Most anal cancers are Squamous Cell Carcinomas. Cells that are becoming malignant, but have not invaded below the surface are called ‘pre-cancerous’ (carcinoma-in-situ) or Bowen’s disease.
HOW COMMON IS ANAL CANCER?
Anal cancer is fairly uncommon, 1-2% of GI cancers. However, the numbers of cases are increasing at a very rapid rate.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Age-most people with anal cancer are over the age of 50, except specific groups.
Anal warts-infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) have an increased risk of anal cancer.
Anal sex-both males and females who have anal receptive intercourse are at increased risk.
HIV infection-even if normal counts.
Smoking-increases the risk of most cancers.
Chronic inflammation-people with long standing inflammation or fistulas are at slightly higher risk.
Pelvic radiation-radiation for rectal, prostate, bladder, or cervical cancer are at higher risk.
CAN ANAL CANCER BE PREVENTED?
Few cancers can be totally prevented, but there things to reduce risk. Regular check ups. Using condoms and avoid skin to skin contact when having anal receptive intercourse (this reduces risk, but does not eliminate it). Avoid sexual contact when your partner has anal warts.