This isn't a topic on the top of every one's blog list but WHY NOT? Cancer is cancer, whether it occurs in the jaw, breast, kidney, or anus. Former "Charlie's Angels" actress Farrah Fawcett, 62, is back in the hospital this week reportedly with metastases from her anal carcinoma, diagnosed in 2006.
Last September, P.J. O'Rourke was diagnosed with anal cancer. According to CNN:
"The numbers of anal cancer cases are rising, although experts haven't been able to pinpoint why."
ANAL CANCER--Time to Talk
OK, thankfully it's rare -- 1 in 100,000 people -- but with over 6 billion people in the world...do the math. It's significant, and growing in incidence, especially since the advent of the acceptance of anal sex--a fact that needs addressing.
According to statistics, the odds of anal cancer are 35 TIMES HIGHER in men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM is the current euphemism for anal sex, and I don't have any problem with the acronym, except it isn't just MSM but also WHASM (women who have anal sex with men) who need to be aware! BE AWARE that condoms are essential. So men or women who are having unprotected (or even protected) anal sex need to understand--you are at 35 times higher risk.
In addition, MSM who are HIV positive are twice as likely to get anal cancer than MSM who are HIV negative. Likewise then, WOMEN with HIV+ partners need to be EQUALLY VIGILANT.
Why is that?
The most common manifestation of this disease may very well be propagated by the Human Papilloma Virus. At least that is the leading theory. So just like women can get cervical cancer from HPV and we believe that uncircumcised men can get penile cancer from HPV; probably, both sexes can get anal cancer from HPV. Who gets HPV? Who gets these? Individuals with a history of multiple sexual partners, anal receptive (read anal) intercourse, and genital warts are at an increased risk for infection.
Genital warts are one of the few visible manifestations of HPV. Anal warts are, basically, a sexually transmitted disease, mostly transmitted through anal sex. I'm gonna show you a picture of them right now, so gird your loins:
These are anal warts. Bumpy, cauliflower-like appearance. Probably due to the association between HPV and anal cancer, women with history of cervical cancer are at increased risk of developing anal cancer. This is what you want to look for and act on. People with these are at an increased risk for cancer.
Take Home Lessons: Wear condoms. Avoid people with warts in the genital area. Avoid sex with HIV+ individuals unless you are REALLY well informed and quite well protected. And a far as I am concerned, you should get the HPV vaccine if you are in an at risk group.
1. Unprotected Sex
2. Anal sex -- protected or not, male or female
3. Male-female vaginal sex if the male is uncircumcised
4. Many sex partners over the course of a lifetime, vaginal or anal or oral sex
5. History of genital warts--exposed to genital warts
Why worry about many partners? Because HPV is transmitted with increasing likelihood with an increasing number of partners; in addition, the virus will often cause no symptoms. It's frequently silent, and you'll never know you got it. As for women, given the frequency of cervical cancer and the implication of HPV in the origin of that disease, unless you intend to have very few partners --get the vaccine.
And let's not forget the legend as she was: