Screening for Squamous Cell Anal Cancer in HIV Positive Patients: A Five-Year Experience

Abstract

Aim

Potential screening modalities for early diagnosis of squamous cell anal cancer (SCC) in HIV patients include digital anorectal examination (DARE), anal Papanicolaou testing (Pap test), human papilloma virus (HPV) cotesting, and high-resolution anoscopy. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the results of a five-year screening program for SCC in HIV patients.

Materials and Methods

We conducted a retrospective study on 204 HIV patients who underwent a screening program for SCC from October 2010 to January 2015. All patients were screened by DARE, anal Pap test, including HPV test and cytology, and high-resolution video-proctoscopy (HR-VPS) with and without acetic acid 3%. Depending on macroscopic appearance and biopsies, patients underwent observation or treatment. Median follow-up was 36 months.

Results

Cytologic abnormalities (Cyt+) for high-risk HPV genotypes were recorded in 34% of patients. HR-VPS was positive in 59 patients (29%), of whom 13 patients (22%) were positive for warts; the rest have typical features of anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN). Sixteen (8%) patients had AIN (AIN I–III) and underwent wide local excision, ablation, or imiquimod. Absence of progression was recorded. Fourteen patients (7%) had SCC: eight (57%) with no evidence of recurrence, two (14%) had recurrence, and four (29%) died from metastatic disease.

Conclusions

Our data demonstrated a successful screening program in preventing SCC in HIV patients. We demonstrate the advantages of progression towards SCC. Moreover, we used a new screening tool, the HR-VPS, a low-cost and manageable instrument to collect patients’ long-term data.

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