Important to Note: Symptoms of anal cancer can be mistaken for more common conditions such as hemorrhoids.
HPV is normally associated with genital warts and cervical cancer. However, it has also been linked to anal cancer. In a new study it was found that while “both sexes saw an increase in anal cancers, the rate for men jumped most dramatically.” (1)
“I think the literature has already shown that there has been an increase in anal cancer cases, but we were surprised to see how dramatically it increased” said Dr. Lily Lai, lead author of the study. (1)
According to the Mayo Clinic, “anal cancer signs and symptoms include bleeding from the anus or rectum, pain in the area of the anus, a mass or growth in the anal canal, and anal itching. The signs and symptoms of anal cancer aren’t specific to this disease. Some people mistake their signs and symptoms for more common conditions, such as hemorrhoids, and don’t see their doctors.” (2)
A persistent HPV infection is usually cleared from the body within a two year time frame. (3)
However, some people may go on to develop severe health problems like anal cancer.
It should be noted that, “HPV-related cancers might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat. These include cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) … Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers. (3)
The bottom line?
Study authors concluded that HPV related anal cancers “increased dramatically after 1997 for men and women, although men were more likely to be diagnosed with CIS (anal carcinoma in situ). These changes likely resulted from available screening in men and argue for efforts to identify high-risk individuals who may benefit from screening.” (1)
(1) Rebecca A. Nelson, Alexandra M. Levine, Leslie Bernstein, David D. Smith and Lily L. Lai “Changing Patterns of Anal Canal Carcinoma in the United States.” American Society of Clinical Oncology – Journal of Clinical Oncology – Published online before print March 18, 2013
(2) MayoClinic.org – Anal cancer – Symptoms – Published July 26, 2013
(3) CDC.gov – Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Symptoms and Health Consequences – Page last updated: January 22, 2015