Anal cancer isn’t common, but some groups have a much higher risk of developing the disease. If you’re in a high-risk group, the highly experienced team at Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford provide anal Pap smears to pick up precancerous changes in cells. New England’s largest specialist colorectal practice has convenient offices in Bloomfield, South Windsor, Enfield, and Plainville, Connecticut. Call the office nearest you today to arrange an anal Pap smear or book an appointment online.
Women have had regular pap smears to check for cervical cancer for many years. This simple test has saved thousands of lives by picking up the earliest signs of cervical cancer. When treated soon enough, cervical cancer treatment is typically very successful.
An anal pap smear looks for signs of anal cancer or precancerous changes. Your provider at Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford very gently takes a small sample of cells from the lining of your anal canal. These go to the lab for testing.
An anal pap smear can detect changes in the cells called anal dysplasia that could mean the cells are turning cancerous. Early detection could lead to early treatment and the potential prevention of progression to anal canal cancer. Cell changes happen slowly in anal cancer, and finding these early indicators ensures you get the prompt treatment you need.
Anal cancer is most often caused by a sexually transmitted disease called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes most cancers of the anus, cervix, and penis. HPV is passed on during sex, so sexually active people can become infected quite easily, leaving them more vulnerable to anal cancer.
The Cancer Network reports that around 95% of gay and bisexual men who are HIV positive are carrying an HPV virus. About 65% of gay and bisexual men who don’t have HIV are carrying an HPV virus.
HPV can spread easily through skin-to-skin contact, so although wearing a condom can help, it doesn’t eliminate the risk. If you have unprotected sex, a lot of different sexual partners, and regularly have anal sex, then having a regular anal Pap smear is advisable.
The idea of having an anal Pap smear is still relatively new, but many doctors believe it should be a routine screening for gay and bisexual men. Women who have anal sex and multiple partners and women who are transgender should also have regular screenings.
The current recommendation is that you have an anal pap smear every year or no less than three years apart. The test doesn’t just detect anal cancer; it also identifies the HPV virus, which means you can get treated before you pass the infection on to anyone else.
To find out more about the anal pap smear and whether you should have one, call Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford today or book an appointment online.