Anal Cancer Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors for developing anal cancer, but it is important to remember that risk factors only suggest an increased chance of developing cancer – they do not indicate that a person is certain to develop cancer. Some individuals may have two or more risk factors and never experience cancer, while some patients with anal cancer had few or none of the known risk factors. Researchers have only been able to suggest a possible correlation between the onset of cancer and existing conditions or lifestyle practices, but cannot with certainty determine whether or how it contributed to the development of the condition.

One prominent anal cancer risk factor has been identified as infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV) – the same virus that is linked to cervical cancer. In fact, researchers have indicated that women who have a history of cervical cancer have an increased risk of developing anal cancer. Studies have indicated that being vaccinated against HPV lowers the risk of developing anal cancer.

Other known anal cancer risk factors include:

  • HIV – People infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – the virus that causes AIDS – are more likely to develop anal cancer.
  • Sexual activity – Having multiple sex partners increases the risk of contracting anal cancer, as well as contracting HIV and/or HPV. Receptive anal sexual activity also increases the risk of developing anal cancer in both men and women.
  • Smoking – Current smokers are many times more likely to develop anal cancer. Quitting the habit reduces the risk dramatically.
  • Frequent anal abnormalities – Experiencing frequent anal fistulas (abnormal openings) or recurrent redness, swelling and soreness is associated with an increase in an individual’s risk of developing anal cancer.

The highly specialized oncologists within Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program are committed to helping men and women who have developed anal cancer by providing comprehensive patient care that utilizes some of the most advanced treatments and techniques available anywhere. We are one of 41 cancer centers in the country designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, and the only such center based in Florida. This speaks to our superior clinical trials and our unique collaborative, multispecialty approach to developing and implementing patient treatment plans. Our team of surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and other specialists can help assess and treat your existing cancer and will work with you to minimize the likelihood of recurrence.

Contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or by using our convenient online patient registration form to learn more about anal cancer risk factors. No referral is needed to receive treatment at Moffitt.