Rates of squamous cell carcinoma of the anus and related mortality have risen sharply over the past 15 years, according to results of a retrospective study published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The findings reflect an urgent need for improved anal cancer awareness and prevention strategies, according to researchers. “Given the historical perception that anal cancer is rare, it is often neglected,” Ashish A. Deshmukh, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, said in a press release. “Our findings of the dramatic rise in incidence among black millennials and white women, rising rates of distant-stage disease, and increases in anal cancer mortality rates are very concerning.” More than 90% of cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the anus are associated with HPV. Previous studies showed that incidence of this disease more than doubled between the late 1970s and early 2010s in the United States.
…Researchers noted that although HPV is preventable through vaccination, half of Americans have not been vaccinated. “It is concerning that over 75% of U.S. adults do not know that HPV causes this preventable cancer,” Deshmukh said in the release. “Educational campaigns are needed to increase awareness about the rising rates of anal cancer and importance of immunization.”