Anal cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that begins at the opening of the rectum (also known as the anus). This type of cancer differs from colorectal cancer because it only affects the opening of the rectum while colorectal cancer affects the entire rectum and the large intestine.
Even though the cases of anal cancer are not as frequent like the other types of cancer such as colon, rectal, or colorectal cancer, the number of people who suffer from it has grown rapidly in the last decade because it is not treated in the early stages.
Anal Cancer SignsPeople suffering from this type of cancer are diagnosed after its spreading to the lymph nodes or to other organs. In order to recognize this disease on time, and to receive a proper treatment, you should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of anal cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Anal CancerAlthough the causes of anal cancer are not specified in most of the cases, there are certain factors that can contribute to developing this disease, such as smoking, weakened immune system, and frequent anal irritation.
The people who are mostly affected by this type of cancer are adults over 60. Often, the symptoms of anal cancer are not present in the early stages.
However, there are certain signs which indicate that you might be suffering from this disease, including:
- Rectal bleeding
- Unusual bowel movements
- Abnormal discharge from the anus
- Rectal itching
- Tenderness and pain in the anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal area
- Presence of a lump or mass near the anus
These symptoms are more commonly caused by benign conditions, such as hemorrhoids, anal warts, or anal fissures.
Nevertheless, if you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately consult your doctor in order to find the cause and to treat the condition on time.Detection of Anal Cancer
If you detect anal cancer in the early stages, the chances of effectively overcoming the disease are higher. This cancer can be detected with a number of procedures, including:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): this involves examination of the outside of the anus to find out whether you have hemorrhoids or fissures. Then, the doctor puts on a latex glove and inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to search for lumps or any other abnormalities.
- Anoscopy: an examination which involves a small tubular instrument, called anoscope or anal speculum. This instrument is inserted into the anus in order to detect the problems of the anal canal. This exam is performed if something unusual is discovered during the DRE.
- Ultrasound, biopsy, CT scan, MRI scan these are all procedures that can be used to detect the presence of anal cancer. But, there are lot of controversies surrounding them, because many studies suggest that they either spread or cause cancer.