This July, Cancer Council NSW will aim to reduce the stigma and embarrassment associated with anal cancer by hosting a free webinar focussing on the disease in Gay and Bisexual men.

The Anal Cancer in Gay and Bisexual Men webinar, which will be held on Wednesday 15 July, will offer support and information for those living with anal cancer, and their carers and families, and aims to raise further awareness of this overlooked disease across the broader Gay and Bisexual communities, and health professionals.

Each year in Australia, about 350 people are diagnosed with anal cancer.  The cancer is caused by infection with high risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), and while it is a generally rare cancer, incidence of anal cancer is increasing.

International research has shown that compared with the general population, HIV-negative Gay and Bisexual men are up to 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with anal cancer,  while HIV-positive Gay and Bisexual men are up to 130 times more likely than the general population to be diagnosed.

Because of the stigma around anal cancer, people often do not seek help for some time after the condition has developed, which can make treatment difficult. Common symptoms include bleeding, discomfort or itching in the anal area and changes in bowel movements. The Anal Cancer in Gay and Bisexual Men webinar will discuss the prevalence, screening and early detection of anal cancer, and the real-life experiences of people living with the disease.
Stephen Leppard – who will share his personal story as part of this webinar – is an anal cancer survivor who is now working to raise awareness about anal cancer:

“My diagnosis of anal cancer brought me face-to-face with another, deeper, layer of shame that I encountered previously in my life when coming out as gay in the late 1970s, and discovering that I was HIV-positive in the early 1990s.

“There is a lot of work to be done to reduce the stigma associated with anal cancer and to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease within our communities.

“I would encourage anyone who is affected by anal cancer, or who would like to learn more about the disease, to register for Cancer Council NSW’s webinar which will act as a supportive platform for open, honest and informative discussion, without the stigma.”

To find out more on anal cancer and to register to attend Cancer Council NSW’s Anal Cancer in Gay and Bisexual Men webinar, please visit:

– ENDS –

For further information or media interview, please contact:
Laura Cairnduff, PR Officer, Cancer Council NSW, 02 9334 1408, 0423 421 382

About the webinar:

The Anal Cancer in Gay and Bisexual Men will be held on Wednesday 15 July 2015 between 7:00pm – 8:00pm.

The webinar is simple and easy to access through your home computer, tablet or smartphone – all you need is sound or you can call in toll free by phone.
The recorded session can also be accessed from the Cancer Council NSW website at a later date for anyone not able to attend on the night.
To register to attend the webinar, please visit:

Speakers and topics:
•    Stephen Leppard, anal cancer survivor: Anal Cancer: the shame and the stigma exposed
•    Professor Andrew Grulich, Kirby Centre, University of NSW: Approaches to preventing anal cancer
•    Conjoint Associate Richard Hillman, Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney and the Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre: Anal cancer, the clinician’s perspective

This webinar is being delivered as a project from funding by the Aurora Group small grants.


01-07-2015Anal Cancer Webinar Reduces Stigma Around Overlooked Disease