Men's Health Week: Anal Cancer

Publish Date: 08/06/2012

 

Men's Health Week: Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is rare, and in the general population it actually affects more women than men.

Although the cause of anal cancer is not known, there are a number of risk factors:

•      exposure to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) (approximately 80 per cent of anal cancer patients also have evidence of HPV infection)

•      cervical cancer or abnormal cervical cells in the past

•      vaginal cancer

•      lowered immunity

•      sexually transmitted infections

•      smoking.

A rectal exam will in some cases detect anal cancer early. Some experts recommend anal screening for those who might be at high risk of anal cancer. However, this test has not yet been studied enough to know how often it should be done, or if it actually reduces the risk of anal cancer.

The most common symptom is bleeding from the anal area (rectal bleeding).  Other symptoms can include:

•      small lumps around the anus which may look like piles

•      pain in the rectal area or the sensation that there is a lump there

•      discharge of mucus from the back Passage

•      lump(s) in the groin

One in five people may not show any symptoms at all.

Impact/evidence on LGB people

Cancer Research UK states although anal cancer is generally more common in women, gay and bisexual men are at more risk of developing anal cancer than their heterosexual counterparts. HIV positive men are at even more risk.

The reasons for this are probably that they are likely to have been exposed to HPV and/or have been diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted infection in the rectum. Also, HIV positive men are more likely to have a weakened immune system, which is another probable factor in the onset of anal cancer. Another reason may be that gay and bisexual men are more likely to smoke.

Put together there are a number of contributory factors here which might explain why gay and bisexual men are more at risk.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that urgent referrals should be made to a cancer specialist if the following symptoms are observed:

•      bleeding from the anus that lasts for more than six weeks

•      an unexplained lump in the rectum

•      unexplained anaemia.

How is your GP?

The LGF is currently running a survey on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual peoples experiences of their GPs. What we aim to build with your help through this survey is an accurate picture of current healthcare provision by GPs for LGB people which will then form part of a strategy to make sure that GPs are better equipped to acknowledge the needs of their LGB patients. If your are LGB and live in the UK please take 5 minutes to complete this survey by visiting www.lgf.org.uk/gpexperiences

 

Referrals/support organisations for Anal Cancer

Cancer Research UK

www.cancerresearch.org

 

Macmillan

www.macmillan.org

 

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation

0845 3 30 30 30

www.lgf.org.uk