More Women With HIV Suffer From Anal Cancer, Study Claims

There are more HIV-infected women suffering from another major health problem in the U.S. than previously estimated, according to a large-scale study supported by the National Cancer Institute. Many remain undiagnosed with anal cancer. 

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggests that anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) is more common in the country. HSIL marks the development of anal cancer.

The findings come from the analysis of data gathered from 256 female HIV patients through full anal evaluation, including a high resolution anoscopy. The participants also underwent directed biopsy to determine the presence of anal HSIL.

"We believe most prior studies of anal HSIL prevalence in women living with HIV under-represented the true percentage,” Elizabeth Chiao, lead researcher and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said in a statement. “Because only individuals with abnormal anal cytology underwent high resolution anoscopy in past studies, compared to all the participants in this new study." 

The study’s participants came from 12 academic medical centers in the U.S. The researchers said that anal HSIL is 27 percent more common in women compared to previous reports that ranged between four to nine percent of women with HIV. 

With the findings, the team called on health officials to create new and wider screening of women living with HIV. The study states that the group currently has disproportionally higher rates of anal cancer compared to the general population of women. 

“The high prevalence of anal cancer precursors and invasive anal cancer among women living with HIV calls for greater screening in this population,” Elizabeth Stier, lead study author and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine, said. 

"Because optimal screening strategies are still not yet known, prevention of anal cancer among this population should focus on identifying cost-effective strategies for the detection and management of anal cancer precursors," she added. 

A number of health organizations in the U.S. have been calling for improved screening to better detect anal cancer in women. These groups include the American Cancer Society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Woman There are more HIV-infected women suffering from anal cancer in the U.S. than previously reported, according to a study supported by the National Cancer Institute. Pixabay