Papillomavirus and anal cancer

Dr. Antonino Sgroi
General Surgery and Proctology

Anal cancer accounts for 2% of all digestive cancers. Like digestive cancers, its incidence has been rising steadily in recent years. The most important cause of anal tumours is infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) (1). This is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. 80-90% of the world's population have been in contact with this virus during their sexual lives, but only 10-15% remain chronically infected.

Like uterine cancer, which shares the same pathophysiology, these cancers are preceded by high-grade lesions (precancerous lesions), the simple treatment of which can reduce the risk of cancer.

There are several screening programmes for these lesions, and recommendations vary from country to country. According to several studies, screening is offered to groups of people who have a higher incidence of anal cancer than the general population (2). These are 1) men who have sex with men living with or without the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); 2) patients living with HIV; 3) patients, especially women, with solid organ transplants or patients taking immunosuppressive drugs for other pathologies; 4) women who have suffered precancerous lesions or gynaecological cancer.

Until now, there has been no scientific proof that screening for and treating HPV-induced precancerous lesions is effective in reducing the risk of developing invasive anal cancer. In 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Prof. Palefsky and his colleagues published a study including 4459 patients. This publication showed that the risk of developing invasive cancer was significantly lower (57% reduction) in patients who were screened and treated (3).

The Centre Médical du Lac and Dr Antonino Sgroi, FMH surgeon and proctologist, are offering a specialised HPV anal dysplasia screening consultation for at-risk patient groups. The clinic will be equipped with the latest medical technology. Patients will be able to benefit from accurate diagnoses and treatments tailored to their needs, based on scientific recommendations.



Lin C et al. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018; 18(2): 198-206
Clifford et al. Int.J.Cancer. 2020 ; 1-11
Palefsky et al N Engl J Med. 2022 Jun 16;386(24):2273-2282