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Anal cancer is a rare type of cancer. So the surprising increase in anal cancer cases (tripled since the 1970s), suggests new cases are swelling among ‘high-risk groups,’ particularly among men who have sex with men according to a new study.
A U.S. cancer database search found that the rate of anal cancers went from approximately one person per 100,000 between 1973 and 1996 to three people per 100,000 between 1997 and 2009.
“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,” according to Dr. Lily Lai, the study’s senior author from City of Hope in Duarte, California.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 7,000 people will be diagnosed with anal cancer in the U.S. in 2013, and about 900 will die from the disease. The most common type of anal cancer by far is squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for about 85% of cases.
There is no way to completely prevent anal cancer. But the best way to reduce the risk of anal cancer is to avoid HIV or HPV infection. The risk of these is higher for those who have sex with many partners and those who have unprotected anal sex. If you suspect you have HPV, get screened and treated.
Anal cancer is diagnosed by a physician but symptoms include bleeding, pain or lumps in the anal area, and anal itching and/or discharge. Possible treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Your treatment will depend whether the tumor has spread, and on the type, size and location of the tumor.
Anal cancer has increased among men and women yet the rate for men jumped most dramatically – from one in every 100,000 men to three in every 100,000. Lai says the major increase in cases among men was a novel finding, and her team suspects it could be due to more men getting screened more often, especially men with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).