Treating anal precancerous lesions with innovation and experience
At Tufts Medical Center, we are taking an innovative, full-service approach to treating anal dysplasia, which is a growing nation-wide challenge. This means you will have access to the most advanced techniques to detect and treat dysplasia, a precancerous condition and anal cancer from leaders in the emerging field. This high level of care is provided by a compassionate staff that will respect and protect your privacy.
You should a make an appointment with our specialists if you are concerned that you are at risk for anal cancer, if you want to be screened or if you have tested positive for dysplasia through an abnormal pap smear. You can be screened, diagnosed and treated on site, in our clinic. We also offer counseling at any stage to help you understand and cope with the effects of dysplasia and HPV infection. Because the clinic is a part of a vibrant academic medical center, you will also have access to a full range of advanced care if needed.
The clinic is directed by infectious disease specialist Jose Antonio Caro, MD, who has been specially trained in the field and is conducting research to better understand the disease. He is certified in High Resolution Anoscopy and has performed thousands of cancer screening procedures and biopsies.
Dysplasia and anal cancer are a growing concern
Anal dysplasia is associated with the human papilloma virus, commonly referred to as HPV. An estimated 80% of adults who are sexually active have been in contact with the HPV virus, although most will never show symptoms and in many cases it will go away on its own. In some cases, those with HPV also develop abnormal cells in the lining of the anus, which is called dysplasia.
In some cases, the abnormal cells in this area form a lesion that may progress into cancer. The National Cancer Institute projected that 6,230 people would be diagnosed with anal cancer in the United States in 2013, up from 5,820 in the previous year.
Anal dysplasia is a difficult subject, but it is important to discuss and take action. We can identify these precancerous lesions and treat them with a simple procedure that is done at the clinic as an out-patient procedure. This prevents the development of some cancers.
Regular screening for anal dysplasia should be considered for people with certain risk factors. You are at risk if you:
- Have a suppressed immune system such as those living with HIV or AIDS or those who have had a solid organ transplant;
- Have a history of receptive anal intercourse;
- Are a woman with a history of cervical, vaginal or vulvar dysplasia or cancer
- A man who has sex with men;
- Have a history of HPV infection or previous anal cancer;
- Have had genital warts;
- Have chronic anal irritation, growths or lesions that bleed.
A screening exam begins with a conversation. We will talk with you about your risk factor and medical history. Then, we perform a physical exam including an anal pap smear. We will provide you with the results within just a few days.
If screening indicates that you may have dysplasia, we will do a simple diagnostic procedure to determine the extent and location of the lesions. This procedure is done in the clinic and takes less than an hour.
During the procedure, we use high-resolution anoscopy to identify precancerous lesions and take biopsies of abnormal areas. It does not require any preparation; you will not need to go without food or take any special medication ahead of time. You can come into the clinic on your own and leave without assistance and continue your regular daily activities. We will notify you within days of the results.
Dysplasia is treated at the clinic with an advanced, generally painless procedure that does not require a hospital stay. The procedure uses a targeted treatment called cauterizing to destroy abnormal cells. As with the diagnostic procedure, no special preparation is needed and you can come in on your own and leave without assistance.
If the lesions have developed into cancer, we will bring in a team of specialists for your treatment. Advanced care is available through Tufts Medical Center.
Whether you just have questions about your risk factors or are overwhelmed with a diagnosis of dysplasia, we are here to listen and to help you work through the issues you face. We understand that this can be a confusing, frightening experience and we offer support to make it easier. Counseling is available to anyone who is concerned about or going through the process of being treated for anal dysplasia
We work closely with physicians who refer their patients to us to ensure continuity of care. We will share with you information about the treatment of and recommendations for follow up care that we provide to your patients.
You many refer your patients to us for screening or after you have screened them and determined that they have dysplasia.