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What DO I Need to Know about Anal Warts?

1. Anal warts are relatively common. Anal warts are caused by the HPV (human papillomavirus) and affect the area around the anus.

2. What they look like: They first appear as tiny blemishes, the size of the head of a pin and may grow larger than the size of a pea. If not removed, they can spread.

3. They are highly contagious. A person with genital warts can pass the HPV infection to his or her sexual partner, but some seem immune.

4. People usually get anal warts by coming in direct contact with genital warts on a partner’s genitals or anus during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

5. Location – Anal warts are generally located in and around the anus, but they can also appear in the anal canal.

6. Anal warts may not appear until months or even years after infection by a sexual partner.

7. If you have anal warts, your sexual partner should be examined and treated.

8. There is evidence that these warts can become cancerous if left untreated for a long time.

9. While anal cancer is  uncommon, certain strains of HPV have been associated with an increased risk for anal cancer. Additional risk factors include:

  • Age – Most people with anal cancer are over 50 years old.
  • Anal sex – Persons who participate in anal sex are at an increased risk
  • Smoking – Harmful chemicals increase overall cancer risk including anal cancer
  • Immunosuppression – People with weakened immune systems, such as transplant patients who take drugs to suppress their immune systems and patients with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection are at higher risk.
  • People with chronic local inflammation – People with long-standing anal fistulas or open wounds are at slightly higher risk.
  • Pelvic radiation – People who have had pelvic radiation therapy for rectal, prostate, bladder or cervical cancer are at an increased risk.

10. Anal warts may be difficult to get rid of and may come back.

Warning graphic images
Click image, above, to view photos of genital and anal warts.

WARNING: The images presented here are graphic and are intended to aid your understanding of genital and anal warts.

Additional Resources

“Adjuvant interferon treatment can reduce the high recurrence rate of anal condyloma seen after surgical extirpation…”

Adjuvant interferon for anal condyloma


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