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Anal Dysplasia

Virginia Mason, in Seattle, is one of only a few medical centers in the country that evaluates and treats patients with anal dysplasia and anal cancer. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (206) 341-0060.

What is anal dysplasia?

Anal dysplasia is the development of abnormal cells within the anal canal and on the skin surrounding the anus which can be precancerous or cancerous. These changes are due to chronic infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) which is commonly spread by contact.

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?

HPV is a common viral infection spread usually by sexual contact.

HPV infection is strongly associated with anal cancer and anal lesions like warts. There are many strains of HPV; some HPV strains are considered higher risk for developing abnormal cell changes and anal cancer, others may cause benign warts or no symptoms.

Presence of HPV does not mean that you will have anal cancer. Some people may never develop any abnormal cells in the anal canal, even with HPV infection.

Impaired immunity such as HIV infection or immunosuppression is associated with persistent HPV infection due to the inability of the impaired immune system to rid itself of the HPV infection.

Screening for anal dysplasia

Early detection is very important as abnormal cells may be discovered and treated before anal cancer has a chance to develop. Procedures used for screening include:

Risk factors for developing anal cancer

  • History of receptive anal intercourse and over age 45
  • History of anal dysplasia or anal warts
  • HIV+ over age 30
  • Long-term smokers over age 30
  • Taking medications that may suppress your immune system (IBS, transplant, autoimmune medications)
  • High-grade cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer

Additional Resources

  • HPV in Men
  • For information about HPV research studies at Virginia Mason, contact our clinical research team at (206) 342-6926