Medically speaking, you should stop being so weird about your butt! Especially when it comes to talking butt stuff with your doctor.
Case in point: A new study out this week has shown that anal cancer rates have risen at an alarming rate over the past 15 years, as CNN reported on Tuesday. According to the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that the most common type of anal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, increased at a rate of 2.7 percent per year between 2001 and 2015 and that anal cancer mortality rates grew by 3.1 percent annually in about that same time frame. White women have a notably higher risk for anal cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Black men have a higher risk than men of other races. Men who have sex with men, women who’ve had cervical or vulvar cancer, people living with HIV, and people who’ve had an organ transplant are also considered higher risk, per the American Cancer Society.
This might all sound really scary, but the good news is that anal cancer is super treatable if caught soon enough. With early detection, the survival rate for anal cancers is nearly 70 percent, according to WebMD, but in order to get that early detection, you’re going to have to talk butt stuff with your PCP, which is probably something that a lot of you would rather not do. It’s where you poop and also where you maybe get fucked, two things that are pretty taboo in large swaths of puritanical American society. Butt stigma is real, and I get that it might be embarrassing to talk about that part of your body in front of another person. But you know what’s worse that feeling embarrassed? Cancer! Untreated hemorrhoids, herpes, anal warts, and fissures! The self-inflicted psychic terror of knowing something’s up downstairs but not knowing what it is or how to get rid of it so you let it fester and fester and oh my god it’s getting worse!!
So talk about your butt with your doctor—who is a professional and has definitely seen way worse things over the course of their career than the inside of your ass—next time you go in for a check-up. In case you need some help, here are some great ways to bring it up:
- “So, I noticed some weird itchiness and pain around my butthole. Is that normal?”
- “This is super embarrassing, but do you mind giving me a rectal exam? I noticed something weird down there, and I want to get it checked out.”
- “I keep Googling these symptoms and convincing myself I have anal cancer, which I know I shouldn’t do but I keep doing it! Can you please check it out and confirm what’s going on for me?”
- “One butt check, please!”
- “[Jerry Seinfeld voice] Whaaaaat’s the deeeeal with this bloooood?”
You’ve got this!
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.