Men who have sex with men should be getting the equivalent of an 'anal Pap' smear, some doctors are advising. Rates of anal cancer are on the rise, as is HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause both cervical and anal cancers. Women are supposed to get a Pap smear to check for abnormalities in the cervix every year. A similar test for precancerous lesions in the anus - called anal cytology - is available, but not widely used, in spite of the fact that HIV positive men and women and men who have sex with men MSM are at the highest risks anal cancer.
Gay and HIV positive men should be getting an 'anal Pap smear,' doctors suggest
STD Facts - HPV and Men
For decades, women have had the benefit of a test that helps detect cervical cancer in the early stages of infection. The technology, known as the Pap smear , has saved countless lives by ensuring the early detection and intervention, dramatically reducing the incidence of death in women. Today, the technology has been expanded to enable the early detection of anal cancer in gay and bisexual men, as well as at-risk women. The anal Pap smear is a test similar to the vaginal Pap smear insofar as a small sample of cells is collected from the anus and rectum. They are then examined under the microscope to identify any structural changes in the cells. These changes are often identified as precursors to anal cancer, a type of cancer which disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men.