VOLUNTEERS are being asked to take part in a study looking at ways to prevent a rare cancer particularly prevalent among gay men.

Anal cancer is a disease that affects the inner lining of the anus close to the sphincter.

Professor Andrew Grulich from the Kirby Institute at UNSW runs the Study of the Prevention of Anal Cancer Program, or SPANC.

According to Grulich, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the prime cause of anal cancer.

“There are some 100 forms of HPV; some cause genital warts while other types cause more than 90% of anal cancers,” he said.

The SPANC study aims to track the levels of anal HPV infection related cancers in gay men.

While one of the rarer cancers, Grulich said gay men were 20 times more likely to develop anal cancer than any other group: “For HIV-positive men the risk is further elevated with anal cancer now the most common non AIDS-defining cancer and the third most common cancer overall for people with HIV in Australia.”

Volunteers to the study most be over 35, living in and around Sydney and have had sex with other men.

Researchers are particularly keen to hear from HIV-positive gay men.

The study involves six sessions over three years that consist of a combination of interviews and physical examinations.

“Results of the study will provide important information to guide the future introduction of anal cancer screening programs for gay men,” said Grulich.


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