Anal Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Anal cancer is cancer that arises in the anus, the end of the intestinal tract where stool (feces) exits the body. The cancer can begin either in the lining of the anus or in the skin surrounding the anus. Anal cancer is different from colon or rectal cancer, which arises in the other parts of the large intestine. Risk factors for developing anal cancer include infection with certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV), cigarette smoking, many sexual partners, and a weakened immune system.

Symptoms and signs of anal cancer include a hard lump or mass near the anus, anal discharge or bleeding, and a change in bowel habits. Other associated signs and symptoms can include pain when defecating, itching of the anal area, and a sense of pressure or a foreign body sensation in the area.

Other anal cancer symptoms and signs

  • Anal Bleeding
  • Anal Discharge
  • Anal Itching (Anal Pruritus)
  • Anal Pain
  • Change of Bowel Habits (Diarrhea, Constipation, and/or Bowel Leakage)
  • Feeling of Pressure in the Anal Area
  • Mass or Lump Near the Anus
  • Mucus in the Stool
  • Painful Defecation


What are risk factors for developing colon cancer? See Answer

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.