This page is intended for educational purposes with respect to anal cancer. You will find information on what causes anal cancer, preventive measures that can be taken, and information on screening (anal pap smear). You will also find a list of local resources that offer anal pap smear screenings in the Imperial Valley.
Information provided by the American Cancer Association and the National LGBT Cancer Network.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes anal cancer?
Anal cancer and cervical cancer have the same cause: HPV infection.
If you have receptive anal intercourse regularly, it is prudent to be aware that you are in a high risk population for developing anal cancer. For example, the risk increases 20 times in men who have sex with men, MSM, and the risk multiplies further 40 times in MSM infected with HIV. Anal cancer mostly occurs after infection of certain types of human papillomavirus, HPV. These HPV also cause cervical cancer in those who have cervix, which is a part of the uterus.
Is there a way to prevent anal cancer?
Prevention is a key but condom does not seem to work completely.
Obviously HPV infections are sexually transmitted but the nature of the transmission also includes skin-to-skin and mouth-to-skin contact. Thus, condom use cannot prevent HPV transmission completely if HPV shedding happens on the skin or oral lesion.
The most important prevention strategy is vaccination. HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, protects you from 9 different strains of HPV some of which are highly related to anal cancer. Currently Gardasil 9 can be administered from sexually assaulted child to adolescent to adult up to age 45. Do not forget to have HPV vaccine if you are in a high risk population: having receptive anal intercourse regularly.
How can I get tested?
You can get an Anal Pap smear for anal cancer screening.
Cervical Pap smear is widely performed to detect cervical cancer in the early stage; on the contrary, anal Pap smear is not carried out broadly for LGBTQI population. Most likely, that is because no robust guideline is developed, resulting in less awareness of anal Pap smear among healthcare providers and LGBTQI community. However, American Cancer Society mentions targeting populations for anal Pap smear, which helps you consider having anal Pap smear. Do not forget to ask your healthcare provider availability of anal Pap smear if the following applies to you:
- Immunocompromised such as organ transplant and long-term steroid use
- Living with HIV
- Having receptive anal sex
- Having had cervical or vaginal/vulvar cancer
- Having had anal warts, also known as condyloma acuminatum
- Those having cervix older than 45 years old who are positive for HPV 16
National LGBT Cancer Network: LGBT cancer information
American Cancer Society: Can Anal Cancer Be Found Early?
National LGBT Cancer Network: Forgetting Something: Anal Cancer Screening Campaign
Where can I get a screening in the Imperial Valley?
Imperial county healthcare provider list for anal Pap smear:
We conducted a small survey of the availability of anal Pap smear in Imperial County in 2022. For anal cancer screening, utilize the following healthcare providers to have consultation on anal Pap smear:
- Dr. Bernard Lichtenstein
Calexico Wellness Center
420 Heffernan Ave., Ste. D
Calexico, CA 92231
- MD Community Care Center*
608 G Street, Suite 1A
Brawley, CA 92227
*Patients are referred to
207 w. Legion Rd.
Brawley, CA 92227
- ECRMC Womens Health Center**
1271 Ross Ave
El Centro, CA 92243
**Female patients only, performed by a gynecologist