07:00am Sunday 20 October 2019

Study looks at anal cancer in Tasmania

Steve SimpsonNew research released

Menzies PhD candidate Steve Simpson, Jr. and Menzies Honorary Associate and School of Medicine Head of Surgery, Professor Richard Turner recently undertook a study to evaluate the distribution of admissions for anal cancer at all Tasmanian referral centres, finding 131 cases since 1973.

In many ways the distribution of cases was similar to studies on the mainland and abroad: the majority of patients were female, and most cancers were internal, HPV-mediated and presenting at locally-advanced stage. Interestingly, however, typical risk groups, including smokers, persons living with HIV, and persons with a history of other HPV-mediated cancers, comprised relatively small proportions of the Tasmanian cases compared to other studies. This may indicate that the distribution of disease in urban areas, where other studies of anal cancer frequency have been done, is different from rural areas like Tasmania.

The findings of this study indicate that earlier diagnosis was associated with better clinical and treatment outcomes. However, since some cancers go unnoticed by patients, many are only detected at later stages, requiring more invasive treatment.

Systematic screening, like that done for cervical cancer (Pap smears) among high-risk groups is a way to catch cancers early, and there is a push to screen major risk groups like persons with a history of HPV-mediated cancer and men who have sex with men. The current study suggests, however, that screening outside these ‘typical’ risk groups may be needed in the Tasmanian population.

In collaboration with investigators at the Tasmanian Department of Health & Human Services, the authors are soon to begin recruitment for two studies to evaluate the novel epidemiology of anal cancer in Tasmania, including among women with a recent diagnosis of HPV-mediated gynaecological dysplasia, and among persons living with HIV in Tasmania.

View the paper online from the journal website.

Photo: Menzies PhD candidate Steve Simpson, Jr

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