Anal cancer is fairly rare for most people, in general about 1 in 500 develop anal cancer in their lifetime. In comparison, the chances a person will develop colorectal cancer is 1 in 22. However, rates of anal cancer are on the rise, especially for people who have HPV infections.
There are currently no specific numbers on how high HPV increases your risk of anal cancer. However, HPV was directly correlated to 630,000 cancer cases around the world, 35,000 of which were anal cancers.
Part of the reason for the inexact numbers on anal cancer is the lack of screening. The relationship between anal cancer and HPV had been known since 2014. However, only New York mandates routine screenings for anal cancer.
The more chronic the infection, the higher the risk
HPV causes such a high risk of anal cancer due to how it infects the body. HPV is actually a group of over 150 related viruses that can infect the surface of your skin on a cellular level. These infections are separated into high-risk and low-risk categories based on the type of HPV virus that infects you.
Low-risk infections, while still causing warts and other annoying skin conditions, do not cause cancer.
High-risk infections, however, such as HPV 16 and 18, have been shown to dramatically increase the chance that you develop anal cancer.
Other anal cancer risk factors
The types of HPV viruses that cause anal warts are also often the same kind of HPV that cause anal cancer. For this reason, it’s important to get your anal warts screened in order for your doctor to diagnose you properly.
Other types of cancer
While this may seem self-explanatory, women who develop cancers in the vulva, vagina, or cervix may also develop anal cancer. This is probably because HPV also helped cause these cancers as well.
While HIV’s relation to cancer could fill its own article, suffice to say, HIV infection greatly increases your chance of developing anal cancer compared to noninfected patients.
This is not simply because people who participate in sexual activity increase their chance of HIV and HPV infection. Both men and women who engage in receptive anal sex have a higher risk of anal cancer.
Smokers who currently smoke increase their chances of getting all kinds of cancer, including anal cancer. Even with patients who have quit smoking, the number of cigarettes they’ve smoked in the past increases their chance of developing anal cancers.
Patients who have undergone organ transplants, or have developed AIDS or other immune-suppressing disorders have a higher chance of skin infections. In turn, these skin infections can be the very ones that develop into anal cancer.
As more information on anal cancer comes out, it’s become clear that a once rare problem has a very likely chance of causing problems in your life.
If you or a loved one have HPV or have any of these other risk factors mentioned in this article, speak to a medical professional about anal cancer screening today.