Purpose of review: The incidence of human papillomavirus-associated anal cancer is unacceptably high among HIV-positive men who have sex with men, and possibly in HIV-positive women. Unlike most other malignancies occurring in the HIV-positive population, anal cancer is potentially preventable, using methods similar to those used to prevent cervical cancer in women. This review discusses the issues around screening to prevent anal cancer.
Recent findings: Recent studies show that the incidence of anal cancer has increased since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in this population and now exceeds the highest incidence of cervical cancer among women reported anywhere in the world.
Summary: The high incidence of anal cancer among HIV-positive individuals must not be ignored, since it may be preventable. Given the current evidence and analogy with the cervical cancer prevention model, many clinicians believe that identification and treatment of high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia to prevent anal cancer are warranted. When the expertise to do so exists, this is a reasonable approach, particularly if coupled with efforts to optimize further screening and treatment approaches, as well as efforts to document the efficacy of high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia treatment to reduce the incidence of anal cancer.
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
Correspondence to Joel M. Palefsky, MD, CM, FRCP (C), Department of Medicine, Box 0126, 505 Parnassus Ave, Room M1203, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA Tel: +1 415 476 1574; fax: +1 415 475 0986; e-mail: joel.Palefsky@ucsf.edu