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Anal Cancer Causes

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with anal cancer, you’re likely trying to learn as much as you can about the condition and what caused it. And the experts at Tampa General Hospital are here to help.

Anal cancer occurs in the anal canal, which is located at the end of your rectum. What causes anal cancer varies, but most causes often first weaken a person’s immune system. One cause in particular, human papillomavirus (HPV), is very closely linked to anal cancer.

Human Papillomavirus Causes Anal Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV causes approximately 95% of anal cancers, which generally affect the tissue lining the anus. This lining is made up of cells called squamous epithelial cells. These types of cells are present all over the body and can be found in the skin, mouth, throat and genitals. HPV infects these types of cells, and repeated infections caused by high-risk subtypes of HPV can eventually cause what were once healthy cells to grow and multiply abnormally. If abnormal cells continue to grow and spread, they form tumors that can eventually become malignant or cancerous. The HPV that causes most cases of anal cancer is HPV type 16.

Other Risk Factors for Anal Cancer

Other factors that may increase your risk for anal cancer include:

  • Engaging in high-risk sexual practices, such as:

    • Receiving anal sex
    • Having many sexual partners
  • Having a history of cervical, vulvar or vaginal cancer
  • Being positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS
  • Using tobacco products
  • Being older in age
  • Taking drugs that lower the immune system’s ability to fight infection

At Tampa General Hospital, the colorectal specialists can identify the cause of anal cancer–or any other colorectal condition–and then tailor a treatment plan that best suits your specific needs. We take a multidisciplinary approach to care, with a team of physicians, surgeons, radiologists, gastroenterologists and other cancer specialists all dedicated to ensuring you get the best care possible. And because of our affiliation with the University of South Florida, TGH participates in a number of multi-center clinical trials, allowing us to offer advanced medical interventions to treat a variety of conditions.

If you are experiencing pain, itching or bleeding from the anus–or if you have been diagnosed with anal cancer–and want to speak to a TGH physician, use our Physician Finder tool or call (813) 844-2200.