Impact of screening and antiretroviral therapy on anal cancer incidence in HIV-positive MSM

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The incidence of anal cancer is high in HIV-positive MSM. We modeled the impact of screening strategies and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) coverage on anal cancer incidence in Switzerland.


Individual-based, dynamic simulation model parameterized with Swiss HIV Cohort Study and literature data. We assumed all men to be human papillomavirus infected. CD4+ cell count trajectories were the main predictors of anal cancer. From 2016 we modeled cART coverage either as below 100% (corresponding to 2010–2015) or as 100%, and the following four screening strategies: no screening, yearly anal cytology (Papanicolaou smears), yearly anoscopy and targeted anoscopy 5 years after CD4+ count dropped below 200 cells/μl.


Median nadir CD4+ cell count of 6411 MSM increased from 229 cells/μl during 1980–1989 to 394 cells/μl during 2010–2015; cART coverage increased from 0 to 83.4%. Modeled anal cancer incidence peaked at 81.7/100 000 in 2009, plateaued 2010–2015 and will decrease to 58.7 by 2030 with stable cART coverage, and to 52.0 with 100% cART coverage. With yearly cytology, incidence declined to 38.2/100 000 by 2030, with yearly anoscopy to 32.8 and with CD4+ cell count guided anoscopy to 51.3. The numbers needed to screen over 15 years to prevent one anal cancer case were 384 for yearly cytology, 313 for yearly anoscopy and 242 for CD4+ cell count-dependent screening.


Yearly screening of HIV-positive MSM may reduce anal cancer incidence substantially, with a number needed to screen that is comparable with other screening interventions to prevent cancer.

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