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There is no way to know for sure if you're going to get anal cancer. Certain factors can make you more likely to get this type of cancer than another person. Just because you have one or more risk factors does not mean you will get anal cancer. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get the disease. On the other hand, you may have no known risk factors and still get anal cancer. Tell your doctor if any of risk factors below apply to you.
History of human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital warts
Most doctors think that HPV causes squamous cell anal cancer. It is spread via skin to skin contact during sex. In men, circumcision (removal of the foreskin of your penis) decreases the risk of contracting HPV. In women, early onset of sexual intercourse and having sex with uncircumcised men increases risk of HPV.
Multiple sex partners If you have had many sex partners, you are at higher risk for getting HPV. This virus has been linked to anal cancer. Additionally, women whose partners who have had many partners are at increased risk.
Practicing anal intercourse (particularly unprotected)
Having anal sex with a condom offers some protection against HPV, the virus that has been linked to anal cancer. But HPV can still be spread by skin-to-skin contact in the areas not covered by the condom.
Weakened immune system
If you have a weakened immune system, you are at higher risk for anal cancer. You may have a weakened immune system from taking drugs after an organ transplant, or if you are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
History of cervical, vaginal, or vulvar Cancer
HPV causes these cancers and also increases your risk of anal cancer.
Smokers are more likely to get anal cancer than non-smokers. Quitting smoking may reduce this risk.
Age over 50
People older than 50 are more likely to get anal cancer than people of other ages.
History of repeated inflammation of the anal region
People who have chronic inflammation in the anus, from conditions such as fistula, fissures, or perirectal abscesses, may have a higher risk of getting anal cancer.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.