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Increasing Rates of Anal Cancer Due Mainly to ‘HIV-Positive MSM’: Study

A new study has found a correlation between increasing rates of anal cancer in all Western countries and increasing rates of receptive anal intercourse among HIV-positive MSM.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam launched the study after becoming concerned by the 2.2 percent increase per year in anal cancer rates across Western countries.

Their report, titled “The Increasing Incidence of Anal Cancer: Can it be Explained by Tends in Risk Groups?” was released this month in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine. It found that while smoking, having an HPV infection, or being an organ transplant recipient were associated with an increased risk of anal cancer, those who engaged in “receptive anal intercourse” and were “HIV-positive” had the "highest risk." 

Researchers concluded that the “increasing incidence of anal cancer can be partially explained by an increase in the incidence rate in and absolute number of the most important risk group: HIV-positive MSM.”

In the Netherlands, for example, data showed that the incidence of anal cancer was found to have doubled in the last decade. Researchers found that while anal cancer remained “relatively rare” in the general population, it accounted for a “significant burden” of disease in risk groups such as MSM.

Further data showing that “HIV-infected MSM […] have the highest risk for anal cancer” and that individuals were joining this risk group at an increasing rate every year (the number of HIV-positive MSM in the Dutch population increased by 51.7 per cent from 2007 to 2011), allowed researchers to connect the dots.
“Since HIV-positive MSM have a 80-fold higher risk for anal cancer, an increase in the proportion of HIV-positive MSM in the population will contribute to a higher incidence of anal cancer in the general population.”

Since it was the HIV-positive MSM risk group that was found to have increased the most in size when compared to other relevant groups, the researchers concluded that “this risk group contributes to the overall increase in incidence.”

The researchers suggested that further studies should focus on whether such “risk groups would benefit from preventive screening for anal cancer.”

The research corresponds to a study published in The Lancet last December that found that rates for various cancers skyrocketed for men engaging in homosexual activity.

Earlier this summer, the Center for Disease Control in the United States warned that HIV rates were at “epidemic” proportions amongst MSMs.

The CDC notes that while homosexual men make up only a very small percentage of the male population (4%), MSM account for over three-quarters of all new HIV infections, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all new infections in 2010 (29,800).

[22 Oct 2013, Peter Baklinski, Amsterdam, ]