Many adults know that they should go for STI (sexually transmitted infection) screenings regularly, especially since the World Health Organization has reported that over one million STIs are passed along each day on a global basis. There’s also a lot of awareness about the use of condoms and how it’s an important part of maintaining anal health. New York based doctor and leading anal surgeon, Evan Goldstein, MD, is taking things one step further and making it his mission to educate men about the importance of anal Pap smears.
This test is as vital to men as a cervical smear test is for women in detecting the early signs of cancer. Goldstein recommends that anyone who engages in anal play should have a regular anal Pap smear, an internal evaluation with a high-resolution scope, and also an external evaluation.
Some cancers appear with more symptoms than others, with the most common type of anal cancer being squamous cell anal cancer. According to the Annals of Medicine and Surgery, symptoms may include “rectal bleeding, anal pain, and a rectal mass.” According to Goldstein, who is also the founder of Bespoke Surgical in Manhattan, people can also experience warts, which can be itchy, bleed, have lumps, and mucus production.
What to Know About HPV and Pap Smears
While the incidence of anal cancer is somewhat rare, cases have been on the rise. This is due to the increasing rates of human papillomavirus or HPV. It’s a common STI and is often found among people in their teens and 20’s. Because this virus is mostly without symptoms and can go away on its own, it often goes untreated. But it can lead to genital warts and raises the risk of contracting cancer. About 91-percent of cases will be linked to HPV according to CDC research. The CDC also estimates that about 80 million adults are infected with HPV and most won’t even know that they have it.
No, An Anal Pap Smear Shouldn’t be Painful
Part of a screening will include an anal Pap smear. It’s a small swab that is inserted into the anus and picks up cells which are then analyzed for early signs of cancer. To check for suspicious lumps or tumors, a doctor will use a small scope. Neither procedure should hurt or be painful.
Who Should Get One
Dr. Goldstein is on a mission to help underserved communities, particularly with populations who are in fear of being stereotyped. Gay and bi men should seriously consider getting tested. As a medical expert, Dr. Goldstein believes strongly in getting screened and tested regularly which is about once a year. A full exam should include a full review of a person’s history, lab work, and exam.
What Else to Know
Sometimes fear prevents people from getting checked. If an anal Pap smear indicated pre-cancer or cancer, patients should know that most often it responds well to chemotherapy and radiation. When detected early.