Causes and prevention of anal cancer

The exact cause of anal cancer is unknown. But there are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease.

These include:

  • Gender: Anal cancer is more common in men than women.
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV): HPV is a viral infection that is passed from person to person during sexual contact. Your risk of getting the virus increases if you have many sexual partners. Learn more about HPV.
  • Sexual activity: Men and women who have anal sex are more at risk of developing anal cancer. This may also be due to the presence of the HPV virus.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking can also increase your risk of anal cancer. It can delay a HPV infection from clearing up.
  • Lowered immunity: If you are taking medication to reduce your immunity, you have a higher risk of developing anal cancer. For example, after an organ transplant.
  • HIV: If you are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), your risk of developing anal cancer is higher.

If you feel you may be at risk, talk to your family doctor (GP) about your concerns. He or she may advise you to visit a specialist.