Study of the prevention of anal cancer (SPANC)

Date Commenced:
Project Status
Expected Date of Completion:
Recruitment ongoing until June 2015 ; follow up until December 2018
Project Supporters

NHMRC program Grant 568971; Cancer Council of NSW Grant #13-11

Currently recruiting
image - Spanc Logo With Butt284x284

About the Project


Gay men are at greatly increased risk of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related anal cancer. This study tracks the precursors of anal cancer in a cohort of HIV negative and HIV positive gay men.


To describe prevalence, incidence and risk factors for anal HPV infection and associated cytological and histological abnormalities.

Design & Method

Prospective cohort study of anal cancer precursors in  600 HIV positive and HIV negative gay men aged 35 or older at enrolment.  All participants undergo anal cytology screening (anal “Pap smear”) high resolution anoscopy with biopsy if indicated, and testing for sexually transmissible disease at a total of 5 study visits over 3 years. At each visit, questionnaires are completed concerning risk factors for anal HPV infection and anal cancer, and on men’s experiences of the clinical procedures involved in anal cancer screening. A 6th visit has been included to provide study participants with the opportunity to discuss all study results and will take place 2 to 3 months after the 5th visit.


By close of recruitment on July  31, 2015, 617 participants had been recruited into the study.


The SPANC study will provide critical natural history data to aid in the design of future anal cancer screening programs for gay men.


The first conference presentations on this new project occurred in 2011. Since then, there have been numerous presentations nationally and internationally in relation to the SPANC study.

In October 2013, a research paper was published on the methods and design of the SPANC study.  See link to the paper:

Project Members
image - Andrew Grulich2015
Professor and Program Head
Ph +61 (2) 9385 0956
image - 1338427439 Jeff Jin
Senior Lecturer
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - 1338435682 Mary Poynten
Senior Lecturer
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - 1338427795 Dave Templeton Hepp
Conjoint Associate Professor
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - 1338427260 Brian Acraman
Research Officer
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - 1344466264 Pat
Research Assistant
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
image - Robert Mellor
Research Assistant
Ph +61 (0)2 9385 0900
Other Investigators

Richard Hillman (Clinical PI), Carmella Law (PI), Suzanne Garland, Christopher Fairley, Jennifer Roberts, Annabelle Farnsworth, Adele Richards, Sepehr Tabrizi, Andrew Carr, Kirsten McAffery, Kirsten Howard

Project Collaborators: External

St Vincent’s Hospital Immunology B Ambulatory Clinic

Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre, University of Sydney

School of Public Health, University of Sydney

Douglas Hanly Moir Pathology

Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne

RPA Sexual Health

Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre, University of Sydney

Project Contacts

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