Anal cancer rates 'quadrupled' since 1970s

5 June 2014

In Britain, anal cancer rates have increased by almost 300 per cent during the last four decades, according to new statistics released by Cancer Research UK.

The surge has been significantly higher in women compared to men in this period, with prevalence rising by 374 per cent and 202 per cent respectively.

Scientists attribute this dramatic increase to the escalating frequency of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through unprotected sex. Around 90 per cent of anal cancer cases in the UK have been linked to this type of infection.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK’s head of statistics, said: “These are very worrying findings and highlight an increase in a cancer that’s not often talked about.

“Around 1,200 people are diagnosed with cancer of the anus every year in the UK, which means it’s still a relatively rare disease. But the rise in incidence, particularly in women, is concerning.”

Overall, rates have risen from 0.4 in every 100,000 in the mid 1970s to 1.5 today. This type of cancer is rare, but awareness is low as the subject is still considered as taboo by many.

The latest figures revealed that death rates for anal cancer have quadrupled over the last 40 years, meaning six people die every week from the disease in the UK.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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