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Int J Cancer. 2014 Mar 1;134(5):1147-55. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28431. Epub 2013 Sep 14.

Progression of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions to invasive anal cancer among HIV-infected men who have sex with men.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.


The incidence of anal cancer is elevated in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) compared to the general population. Anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) are common in HIV-infected MSM and the presumed precursors to anal squamous cell cancer; however, direct progression of HSIL to anal cancer has not been previously demonstrated. The medical records were reviewed of 138 HIV-infected MSM followed up at the University of California, San Francisco, who developed anal canal or perianal squamous cancer between 1997 and 2011. Men were followed up regularly with digital anorectal examination (DARE), high-resolution anoscopy (HRA) and HRA-guided biopsy. Although treatment for HSIL and follow-up were recommended, not all were treated and some were lost to follow-up. Prevalent cancer was found in 66 men. Seventy-two HIV-infected MSM developed anal cancer while under observation. In 27 men, anal cancer developed at a previously biopsied site of HSIL. An additional 45 men were not analyzed in this analysis due to inadequate documentation of HSIL in relation to cancer location. Of the 27 men with documented progression to cancer at the site of biopsy-proven HSIL, 20 men progressed from prevalent HSIL identified when first examined and seven men from incident HSIL. Prevalent HSIL progressed to cancer over an average of 57 months compared to 64 months for incident HSIL. Most men were asymptomatic, and cancers were detected by DARE. Anal HSIL has clear potential to progress to anal cancer in HIV-infected MSM. Early diagnosis is facilitated by careful follow-up. Carefully controlled studies evaluating efficacy of screening for and treatment of HSIL to prevent anal cancer are needed.


HIV infection; anal cancer; anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions; anus neoplasms; disease progression; high-resolution anoscopy; precancerous lesions

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