Anal Cancer – Presentation, Risk factors and Prevention


Patients with Anal cancer may exhibit:

  • Bleeding from lower passage.
  • Pain, itch or feeling of fullness in the area of the anus
  • A mass or growth in the anal canal
  • A discharge of mucus from the anus
  • Loss of bowel control

Risk factors

Several factors have been found to increase the risk of anal cancer, including:

  • Older age.Most cases of anal cancer occur in people age 50 and older.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).HPV infection increases your risk of several cancers, including anal cancer and cervical cancer. HPV infection is a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Anal sex, Multiple sexual partners: People who engage in receptive anal sex have an increased risk of anal cancer. Probably through increased risk of HPV
  • Smoking cigarettes may increase your risk of anal cancer.
  • Having a weakened immune system: Such as secondary to HIV
  • History of cancer.Those who have had cervical, vulvar or vaginal cancer have an increased risk of anal cancer.


To reduce your risk of anal cancer:

  • Get vaccinated against HPV.Girls and boys have started getting vaccinated in UK, but the vaccine may be given to adults as well. This will help prevent Anal as well as Cervical Cancer
  • Practice safer sex.Practicing safe sex (wearing a condom) will help in preventing HPV and HIV, two sexually transmitted viruses that may increase your risk of anal cancer.
  • Stop smoking.

HPV is the most common STD worldwide. It is easily spread through skin to skin contact and exchange of bodily fluids. There are over 200 different types, most are harmless. Some will cause genital warts or plantar verrucae. A few high-risk strain HPV can lead to cervical cancer, anal cancer and head and neck cancer.

HPV Vaccination has shown to reduce the number of diagnosis of cervical Cancer and we expect those numbers to continue to decrease (1)


Drolet M, Bénard E, Pérez N, et al.

Population-level impact and herd effects following the introduction of human papillomavirus vaccination programmes: updated systematic review and meta-analysis

The Lancet. Published online 26 June 2019

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