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Anal Dysplasia and High Resolution Anoscopy

What is Anal Dysplasia?

Anal warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Direct sexual contact spreads the virus. Anal intercourse is not necessary to develop anal warts. Hand contact in the genital and anal areas or the use of sex toys can spread the virus through skin to skin contact. The warts, if left untreated, can spread. Anal dysplasia can be found in anal warts.

For years women have visited their gynecologist to be tested for cervical cancer. They would be given a Pap smear to make sure that there are no abnormal changes in cervical cells which could lead to cervical cancer. HPV is known to cause the majority of cervical cancers. This precancerous condition and abnormal cell growth is call cervical dysplasia.

HPV also causes anal dysplasia, which are abnormal cell changes in the anal canal. If left unchecked, anal dysplasia could turn into anal cancer. Patients diagnosed with anal dysplasia need close follow up determined by their physicians and any new lesions must be evaluated quickly.

Who is at Risk for Anal Dysplasia?

  • Patients with HPV infections (most common)
  • Patients with a history of anal intercourse
  • HIV positive patients
  • Cigarette smokers
  • Patients with a weakened immune system from certain medications (organ transplant, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

What is High Resolution Anoscopy?

Sometimes anal warts or the appearance of lesions can be found at the time of unrelated surgery, like for hemorrhoids. But High Resolution Anoscopy (HRA) is a procedure used to examine and evaluate the anal canal.

Unlike a colonoscopy, no bowel preparation is needed for the examination. The procedure is performed in the office and usually takes 15 minutes.

A liquid is put into the anal canal which helps to identify any anal dysplasia. Then a thin, round tube called an anoscope is inserted into the anus and the anal canal is examined with a high-resolution magnifying instrument called a colposcope.

If a lesion is found, a biopsy can be taken to view the cells for cancer.
 

What is an Anal Pap Smear?

Prior to a High Resolution Anoscopy, an anal pap smear will most likely be performed. An anal Pap smear is similar to a cervical Pap smear. The physician will use a swab that collects cell samples from the anal canal. The cells are sent to a lab to identify any cellular changes that could indicate cancer.

Who should have an anal Pap smear?

  • Anyone with a history of genital or anal warts
  • Bisexual men
  • Men having sex with men
  • HIV positive men and women

HIV infected people are twice as likely to contract anal cancers as are HIV negative people.
Studies show that the rates of anal cancer are much higher in men who have sex with men (MSM) and are HIV positive.
 

Why a Proctologist is the Best Choice for Care

Your health and wellbeing mean everything in living a happy and fulfilled life. That’s why it’s important to choose carefully when considering health-care providers, especially when it comes to areas of the rectum and anus.
 
Protologists specialize in the treatment of diseases and conditions originating within or affecting the anus, rectum, perianal (around the anus) and perirectal (around the rectum) areas, and related or complicating conditions. That is all they do.
 
A board-certified proctologist is someone who takes on-going training and other requirements set forth by medical associations.