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Screening for anal cancer

Men and women discussing anal cancer

This page tells you about screening for anal cancer.

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Screening for anal cancer

Screening means testing for early stages of a disease before there are any symptoms.

Before doctors can screen for any type of cancer, they must have an accurate test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give false positive results in people who do not have cancer. At the moment, we don’t have a suitable test to use for anal cancer screening.

If you think you are at higher than average risk for anal cancer, talk to your doctor as you may be able to have regular check ups.

 

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About screening for anal cancer

Screening means testing for early stages of a disease before there are any symptoms.

Before doctors can screen for any type of cancer, they must have an accurate test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give false positive results in people who do not have cancer. At the moment, we don’t have a suitable test to use for anal cancer screening.

There is no screening programme for anal cancer in the UK at the moment because

  • Low numbers of cancers would be found
  • The tests have risks that outweigh the benefits for most people
  • The cost of screening would be high

With uncommon diseases, it is most cost effective to screen people who are thought to be at a higher risk. Researchers are looking at a screening people who are at higher risk of anal cancer. In the ANALOGY study, doctors will test people for HPV. And they will look inside and outside the anus, using a microscope. They want to find out whether people find the screening test acceptable, and also how well the test works. You can read more about this in our section about anal cancer research

If you think you may be at higher than average risk, talk to your doctor. For example, you may have a medical condition that increases your risk of anal cancer. If your doctor agrees that you are at a higher risk, he or she may be able to give you regular check ups.

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Updated: 25 June 2012