Helpline
Speak to a registered nurse.
Call the Beating Bowel Cancer Helpline
(9-5:30 Mon - Thu, 9-4 Fri)

020 8973 0011

or email nurse@beatingbowelcancer.org

Anal Cancer Causes and risk factors

The cause of anal cancer is still unknown, but there are several factors which may increase your risk of developing the disease. The most common is the link to two specific ‘oncogenic’ (cancer causing) strains of HPV (human papilloma virus), an infection which causes genital and anal warts.

The following factors can put you at greater risk of developing anal cancer:

  • A history of cervical or vaginal cancer, or abnormal cells of the cervix, likely to be linked with HPV or smoking.
  • A lowered immune response as a result of another condition or treatment for other illnesses which suppress your immune system, such as HIV, or following organ transplantation.
  • Smoking tobacco has been shown to increase the risk of developing many cancers, including cancer of the anus.
  • Although rare, it is more prevalent in people over the age of 50, and in younger adults with HIV infection.
  • Some data suggests that people with a high lifetime number of sexual partners, are at higher risk. This may be due to the increased risk of contracting HPV.

Unfortunately, some people get anal cancer for no clear reason.