Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Anal Cancer Prevention

Be sure you're screened by a doctor regularly if you're at high risk for anal cancer. You're at high risk if you answer "yes" to any of these statements:

Screening Tests for Anal Cancer

Screening tests check for diseases in people who don't have symptoms. There are recommended screening tests to check for anal cancer. For anal cancer, your doctor can check for early signs of cancer during your regular physical exams. It's easier to treat anal cancer if it is found early. That's what screening does.

Illustration of a digital rectal exam
The American Cancer Society
suggests that people over
the age of 50 have a digital
rectal exam (DRE) every year.

Digital Rectal Exam

One type of test is the digital rectal exam (DRE). During a digital rectal exam, the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum. The doctor feels for hard or lumpy areas. This is not only to check for anal cancer, but also to check for prostate cancer in men and rectal cancer in both men and women.

Anal Pap Test

Your doctor may also recommend an "anal Pap test," similar to the test women have for cervical cancer in these cases:

If abnormal cells are seen under a microscope, your doctor will refer you for a biopsy. 

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