Colorectal surgeons are ideal referral sources to screen for and treat high-grade anal dysplasia (high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion [HSIL]) and anal cancer. Anal cytology and high-resolution anoscopy (HRA) using acetic acid and magnification are optimal methods for screening. We endeavored to determine US colorectal surgeons’ attitudes and practices regarding HSIL screening.
An Internet-based survey with questions related to clinician demographics and attitudes and practices regarding anal dysplasia was sent to US members of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Of 1655 requests, 290 (18%) eligible participants responded. Most were white (83%), male (76%), board-certified colorectal surgeons (89%), and graduating medical school after 1990 (54%), almost all treated patients at risk for anal cancer and had read research on HSIL. Approximately one-third of respondents had performed anal cytology, and one-third had performed HRA. When evaluating patients for HSIL in surgery, only 31% use acetic acid with magnification. Of 99 participants who perform HRA, 46% were formally trained, 83% primarily do HRA primarily in the operating room, and 82% use acetic acid with magnification. Knowledge of HSIL risk factors was not associated with screening. Women, more recent graduates, and surgeons with higher percentages of HIV-infected patients were more likely to screen. Screening barriers included no training (52%), not a priority (23%), lack of evidence (21%), and cost (8%).
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons members responding to the survey by and large do not screen for anal dysplasia. Those that do are often not formally trained and use inadequate technique.