Anal Cancer: 7 Common Causes and Risk Factors to Know About

Anal Cancer: 7 Common Causes and Risk Factors to Know About

In the US, approximately 7,270 people get anal cancer every year. It is more prevalent in women than in men.

Anal cancer have several causes and risk factors. Having these risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely get the cancer.

Most anal cancers are caused by HPV. It is a so common virus that nearly all sexually active people will have at some point. Several factors, such as tobacco use or a weak immune system can also put you at higher risk for the cancer.

Here are seven common causes and risk factors of anal cancer that everyone should know.

1. HPV infections

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a virus that has over 100 different types. While some cause genital warts, others have been linked to certain cancers. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer, followed by vaginal/vulva cancer and anal cancer. Many studies show that HPV infections put you at high risk of anal cancer. If you have abnormal cells in the cervix or vulva, you can increase your chances.

HPV is very contagious. It can be transmitted through sexual contact, including oral, vaginal and anal sex. Using condoms can help lower your chance of catching HPV.

Usually, doctors prescribe an antiviral medication like Aldara, Veregen as treatment. You can also go to a drugstore or visit Amazon to buy Vidarox cream. It can help remove genital warts in 1-3 weeks and prevent them from coming back.

To get rid of HPV and prevent cancer, you should boost your immune system. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Tank up on certain vitamins, such as vitamin E, Folic acid and B12. Get the HPV vaccine and get regular check-ups.

Wart on the anus

Wart on the anus

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2. Weak immune systems

The body’s immune system is important to fight against viruses and germs. So having a weakened immune system can make you more vulnerable to infections. This is true for HPV, which can increase your risk of getting anal cancer.

Several factors that can suppress your immune system include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Immunosuppressive drugs (corticosteroids)
  • Surgery
HPV virus attacks cells

HPV virus attacks cells

3. Sexual activities

Any kinds of sexual contact can put you at risk for HPV infections. If you engage in anal sex, your chances of developing anal cancer are very high. But sometimes, you can get this cancer even if you have never had anal sex.

Some sexual behaviors can increase your chance of developing anal cancer, including:

  • Not being uncircumcised.
  • Becoming sexually active at an early age.
  • Being sexually active for many years.
  • Having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Having unprotected sex with a person who has multiple partners.
  • Having sex with a person who has HPV infection.
  • Having had another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Anal sex can increase your risk of developing anal cancer

Anal sex can increase your risk of developing anal cancer

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4. Tobacco use

The cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco can affect the entire body. If you smoke, you are more likely to develop anal cancer. Smoking has been shown to decrease the immune system’s ability to clear HPV. Anal cancer is more common in current smokers than former or non- smokers.

So, stop smoking to prevent anal cancer and other health issues.

5. Older age

As you age, your chance of developing anal cancer will raise. Survey shows that this cancer occurs more often in people aged 50 or older. This is because HPV takes many years to progress into cancer. If you catch the virus in your 20s or 30s, you will be diagnosed with anal cancer in your 50s or over.  

Anal cancer is more common in people aged 50 or older

Anal cancer is more common in people aged 50 or older

6. HIV infections

HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It causes many effects on your body. One of the most common effects is that HIV can weaken your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to HPV infection and other STIs. So, if you have HIV, you will have increased risk of developing anal cancer.

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7. Anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN)

AIN often results from HPV infections. It is described as a growth or abnormal change in the skin inside or outside the anus. Most of the time, people with AIN develop no symptoms. But sometimes you may notice pain, itching, bleeding or skin changes around the anus. If left untreated, AIN can progress into anal cancer. This usually takes many years.  

Anal itching is a common symptoms of anal intraepithelial neoplasia

Anal itching is a common symptom of anal intraepithelial neoplasia

Lumps inside or outside the anus. Pain or swelling in the anal area. Rectal discharge. Rectal itching. Rectal bleeding. These are common symptoms of anal cancer. If you think you are at risk for this cancer, or you have symptoms, talk to your doctor. Early detection and effective treatment can help prevent its development. To reduce the likelihood of infection, you should quit smoking. Eat healthy. Practice safe sex. And take good care of your immune system.

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