Is your butt getting enough attention?
You get your viral load checked, your T-cell count checked, but what about your anus? Did you know that half of HIV+ men have cell changes in their anus caused by HPV? About one in five HIV+ women have these cell changes too, and those with abnormal cervical Pap smears may be at a higher risk for anal cancer, regardless of whether they’ve ever had anal sex. These cell changes usually go away on their own, but some of them will develop into anal cancer. Anal cancer is often symptom free and people aren’t aware they have it. It’s usually mistaken for hemorrhoids and by the time it’s diagnosed, it may have spread to other parts of the body. If you’re HIV positive, you owe it to your anus to get checked out. It could literally save your butt.
Why this study is so important
While deaths from AIDS are way down, anal cancer among people living with HIV is on the rise. We think that anal cancer can be prevented by routine screening and removal of precancerous cells. This strategy has reduced cervical cancer rates by 80%. But to get the insurance companies to cover routine anal cancer screening and preventative treatment, we need to prove that this strategy actually prevents cancer. The best way to show that is to recruit people with High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (or HSIL for short) into a study and assign them randomly to a treatment arm or a monitoring arm. We then follow everyone for five years to compare the rates of cancer in both study arms. At the end of the study we’ll know whether screening and treatment of HSIL are effective strategies in preventing anal cancer. We’ll also learn a lot about HPV and other risk factors and why these sometimes cause cancer.
What your participation means for the study
Your participation is what makes this study possible. If you are HIV-positive, you know that very brave men and women participated in clinical research studies to find treatments for HIV. Like you, these pioneers joined studies and answered questions so that future generations could live in an AIDS-free world. We’ve come a long way since then. In fact, many of us are living long enough to be at risk for health problems typical of later life, like HPV-related cancers. Your participation in this study will help determine whether screening and treatment of HSIL should be the standard of care for people living with HIV and for other groups of people with a high risk for anal cancer. In addition, the tissue samples collected in this study will help advance our understanding of different HPV strains and their role in causing anal and cervical cancers.
Talk to your medical provider about the ANCHOR study
The ANCHOR study would like to be a part of your medical care team. If you have any questions about whether this study is right for you, talk to your doctor and have her call the local study site with any questions.
What does ANCHOR stand for?
Anal Cancer HSIL Outcomes Research.
Anal cancer is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause changes to the skin around and inside the anus. These changes are called "high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions" or HSIL. About half of HIV+ MSM have anal HSIL. Not all anal HSIL will develop into cancer. Most HSIL will go away on their own, but some become cancer over time and can eventually spread to other parts of the body.