HPV And Anal Cancer In Men
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Most people who are sexually active will contract HPV at some point in their lives. You have probably heard a lot about HPV recently because of the new development of a vaccine that can protect against certain types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. This vaccine is not for men, so you might be asking yourself some questions about HPV.
How does HPV affect men?
- Most people who get HPV, men included, do not show symptoms.
- However, even if you do not get genital warts, some strains of HPV are closely associated with certain types of cancer.
- A very common type of cancer that is caused by HPV is anal cancer.
- Anal Cancer is different from colorectal cancer, which is not caused by HPV.
- In addition, different strains of HPV cause genital warts and cancer, so you will not get anal cancer just because you have warts. If you do not have warts, this does not guarantee that you are not at risk for anal cancer
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer appears in or around the anal opening. It is caused by regular cells mutating. Most anal cancers develop from skin cells, although some arise from the upper anal canal. Anal cancer is uncommon, accounting for only 3,400 new cases and 500 deaths per year in the United States.
What are the symptoms of anal cancer?
Although some of these symptoms could be caused by other, less dangerous conditions, if you experience any of these you should see your doctor. As with any cancer, anal cancer is more easily cured if discovered early. Some symptoms to watch for:
- Bleeding from the rectum or anus
- Lumps or masses at anal opening
- Pain or itching in the anal area
- Change in bowel movements, difficulty defecating
- Mucus or pus coming from the anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal area
In addition to HPV, there are other risk factors for anal cancer. You may be especially at risk if:
- You are over the age of fifty
- You participate in anal sex
- You smoke
- Have a weakened immune system
- You have a long-standing anal fistula or open wounds
- You have had pelvic radiation therapy
If you have any of these risk factors you should be especially aware of anal cancer.
How is anal cancer diagnosed and treated?
Anal cancer can be diagnosed in several ways:
- Regular digital exams by your physician can help catch anal cancer early
- Yearly blood in stool tests are also helpful
- Colonoscopies should be conducted every 5-10 years beginning at age 50
- Biopsies may be performed to investigate suspicious lumps or lesions
There are many effective treatments for anal cancer:
- Combination therapy
If you know you have HPV or genital warts you should consider your options. Although most cases of genital warts and HPV go away on their own, recurring and bothersome outbreaks can be controlled. There are many methods available, but natural treatments are effective and have few side effects.