Tag Archive 'men who have sex with men'

Jun 16 2009

The Male Pap Smear

Filed under Research

The Male Pap Smear

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, gay and bisexual men were found to have a significantly higher risk for developing anal cancer, over thirty-five times greater than the general population. HIV-positive men were estimated to be eighty times more likely to get it. Although anal cancer accounts for less than 5 percent of all digestive and intestinal tract cancers, the rates have increased 160 percent over a thirty- year period. Gay African-American men have the sharpest increase and the lowest survival rates. Interestingly, anal cancer in gay men is as common as cervical cancer was in women before the use of the Pap smear, the test that screens for precancerous lesions on the cervix. Both types of cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which also causes anal and genital warts. HPV is one of the most common STDs in the world. Fortunately, anal cancer is highly preventable and treatable if caught in time.

There are more then one hundred different subtypes of HPV, and some are the source of common warts as seen on the hands and feet. HPV affects approximately 65 percent of HIV-negative gay men, and nearly 95 percent of HIV-positive gay men carry HPV in their anal canals. Most do not even know they have it. Subtypes 6 and 11 cause 90 percent of genital warts, while subtypes 16 and 18 are far more dangerous because of their precancerous potential.

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