Anal pap smears help prevent anal cancer in high risk patients.Individuals who are at an increased risk for developing anal cancer should have an anal pap smear to evaluate for possible cell changes that have the potential to develop into anal cancer. The incidence of cervical cancer has diminished significantly due to the advent of Pap smears. HPV affects the anus in the same way it affects the cervix as these consists of the same cell type. The test involves the doctor inserting a small swab into the anus and taking samples of the cells by gently brushing the swab in the anal canal. The sample is sent to a laboratory to check for the virus subtypes that causes warts, as well as checking for any changes in the cells that make up the lining of the anus. This simple test takes a minute or two. If abnormal cells are present, a high resolution anoscopy (HRA) is warranted.
Who should be getting anal pap smears?
Any person who is at an increased risk for developing anal cancer should have anal pap smear to evaluate for possible cell changes that have the potential to develop into anal cancer. Risk factors include:
- HIV positive men and women
- Immunosuppressed individuals (those on medications that can suppress their immune systems such as steroids, immunomodulators or biologic therapies, as well as those who are organ transplant recipients)
- Individuals who engage in receptive anal course
- Individuals with anogenital warts
- Women with a history of high-grade cervical, vulvar, vaginal dysplasia or cancer.
These individuals with these risk factors should be evaluated and have anal pap smear be performed. At Manhattan Gastroenterology, we strive to provide preventative medical care. We offer anal pap smears to individuals who are at high risk for anal cancer. Please discuss this with our gastroenterologists if you are unsure if a test is warranted in your situation.
What is high resolution anoscopy (HRA)?
When abnormal cells are found on anal pap smear a high resolution anoscopy is warranted. HRA is a procedure that allows a closer inspection of the affected tissue in the anal canal. An anesthetic gel is used to numb the area and an anoscope (an instrument used to see into the anus and last part of the rectum) is inserted to allow for visualization of the anal mucosa. A small amount of acetic acid (vinegar) and iodine are used to stain the tissues which will help differentiate the abnormal tissues. Any abnormal appearing tissues are biopsied and samples are sent the pathology lab for further evaluation for any signs of dysplasia (pre-malignant cells) or cancer cells which will require further treatment. HRA or High Resolution Anoscopy may be needed to allow for closer visualization and allow your doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only trained gastroenterologists like our doctors can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
As a best in class, top rated NYC gastroenterologists, our doctors provide highly personalized and comprehensive care. For more information about anal pap smears offered at Manhattan Gastroenterology or to schedule a consultation with the best in class GI doctors, please contact our offices.
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