Gay Men and Cancer

Cigarette smoking among gay men is nearly double that of the general population. Smoking is responsible for 80% of all lung cancers, but it also increases the risk for many other cancers, including colon cancer, esophageal cancer and anal cancer.

The same high-risk strains of HPV (human papillomavirus) that cause most cervical cancers in women are also responsible for causing anal cancer. The virus, spread through receptive anal intercourse, is estimated to be present in 65% of gay men without HIV and 95% of those who are HIV positive. A simple and inexpensive anal Pap test detects the virus but, unfortunately, few physicians are performing anal screening exams and offering anal pap smears to gay men, resulting in anal cancer rates as high as those of cervical cancer BEFORE the use of routine Pap smears in women.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. Gay men with prostate cancer have some additional social and sexual challenges that are rarely addressed adequately by their oncologists and social workers. For example, prostate cancer treatment can have some distinct effects on gay sexual behavior and relationships.

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