Recently I spoke with my gay-friendly doctor colleagues about the high incidence of anal cancer in men who have sex with men. It’s very worrying. So I say to my readers, one and all, get ya bum checked!
You may not realise it, but simply being a man who has sex with men puts you at higher risk of developing anal cancer. And if you have ever had anal warts, or if you have HIV, the risk is much higher again. Incidentally, women who have had an abnormal Pap smear are also at increased risk.
Anal cancer is a form of cancer that grows inside the anus. Usually, you don’t get any symptoms early on. However, once you experience symptoms like bleeding, trouble pooing or pain, the cancer may be at a very advanced stage. Treatment (surgery, radiotherapy) will be no walk in the park.
How to get ya bum checked
Anal cancer is ideally detected very early while easier to treat. Doctors diagnose it via a rectal examination. So, book in with your local gay-friendly doctor, and make a rectal exam part of your annual checkup, especially if you’re HIV positive. It’s just a gloved finger up the bum. This is also the best way to screen for prostate cancer.
Straight men often baulk at the examination and attempt to hide their embarrassment with a joke.
“Doc, you’re boldly going where no man has gone before!”
However, devoted readers of this column hopefully will not flinch as a finger in the bum.
After all, a few seconds of discomfort is a very small price to pay to prevent a terrible disease.
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