There are some risk factors that can increase your chance of developing anal cancer. Anal cancer is slightly more common in women than men.
In the UK, about 1,200 people develop anal cancer each year. It is slightly more common in women than men.
There are some risk factors that can increase your chance of developing anal cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will definitely get anal cancer.
Most anal cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Almost everyone will have HPV at some point. But not everyone will develop anal cancer.
HPV is a virus that is linked to different cancers, including anal cancer. It is a common infection that’s passed on through sexual contact. Most people have HPV at some point and never know they have had it.
There are over 100 types of HPV. Some types are more likely to cause cancer than others. Some types may cause genital warts. Using a condom can help reduce the risk of getting HPV.
Usually our immune system gets rid of the HPV infection without it causing any problems. But a small number of HPV infections may lead to developing a cancer.
We have more information about HPV and cancer.
Having lots of sexual partners increases the chance of getting HPV. But even a person with only one partner can have this virus.
Having anal sex increases the risk of anal cancer. But HPV is passed on easily through sexual contact. So people may develop anal cancer even if they have never had anal sex.
This is when abnormal cells develop in the skin just inside or outside the anus. This is usually caused by HPV.
Most people who have AIN have no symptoms. But symptoms can include:
- skin changes around the anus
- bleeding (but this is rare).
If AIN is left untreated, it can develop into anal cancer over many years.