Screening for anal cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Screening for anal cancer

Men and women discussing anal cancer

Find out why there is no screening programme 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 don't have cancer. At the moment, we don’t have a suitable test to use for anal cancer screening in the UK.

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 don't have cancer. At the moment, we don’t have a suitable test to use for anal cancer screening in the UK.

This is because

  • It will find a low number of cancers
  • 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 doctors think are at a higher risk. Researchers are looking at screening people who are at higher risk of anal cancer. In the ANALOGY study, doctors tested people for HPV. They looked inside and outside the anus, using a microscope. They wanted to find out whether people found the screening test acceptable. And they also wanted to find out how well the test worked. This trial is now closed. We are awaiting the results.

Read more about anal cancer research

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

Find out about risks and causes of anal cancer.

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Updated: 5 June 2016