Anal Cancer Prevention Tips. The evidence is clear: everyday choices impact your chances of getting cancer. Some choices increase your risk; many help to reduce it. That’s what the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has to say about cancer prevention.
According to the AICR Expert Panel, all cancers involve the malfunction of genes that control cell growth and division but only about five percent of cancers are strongly hereditary. Instead, most—including anal cancer—result from damage to genes that happen during your lifetime and that are caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking, unsafe sexual behavior, diet and physical inactivity.
Here are some key ways to prevent anal cancer:
Undergo regular medical and sexual health screenings: Regular screenings should include an examination of the anus and rectum called a proctological examination. Precancerous growths can be diagnosed early and removed in time with these regular screenings. These will also allow for the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage, when they are most treatable. Remember, anal cancers can be prevented by removing precancerous tissue. Regular exams will also help your doctor detect precancerous anal warts and lesions early. While the strains of HPV that cause anal warts do not cause cancer, they can cause precancerous lesions, and studies show that these can be “hidden” within clusters of warts.
Because HPV can be spread by touch, it is worth having regular anal screenings even if you do not have receptive anal sex, or if you always use condoms for anal sex. Studies have found that men and women who have never had anal sex, or always have protected anal sex, nevertheless have anal warts. Meanwhile, screening for men and women who do have receptive anal sex can save their lives.
Vaccination: Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as highly effective in preventing persistent infections with the two human papillomavirus (HPV) types that cause most cervical and anal cancers.
In December 2010, Gardasil was approved for use in males 9 to 26 years of age to prevent anal cancer associated precancerous lesions. A study published this year (2011) in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that vaccinating young men against HPV resulted in the actual reduced infections and incidence of external genital lesions, primarily genital warts.
Treat HPV Infections: Currently, there is no medical treatment for HPV infections, but the lesions and warts that can result from such infections can be treated. Methods commonly used to treat cervical lesions include cryosurgery (freezing that destroys tissue), LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or the removal of tissue using a hot wire loop) and conization (surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal). Similar treatments may be used for external genital warts. Some drugs are also used to remove external genital warts.
More anal cancer prevention tips after the jump.