The signs and symptoms of the anus or anal cancer are often similar to more common and less serious conditions affecting the anus, such as piles (hemorrhoids) and tears in the lining of the anus called anal fissures. A few warning signs and symptoms of anal cancer are
- Rectal bleeding, often minor, is one of the first signs of anal cancer. Often, a person mistakenly thinks the bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids.
- Noticeable changes in bowel habits (having more or fewer bowel movements or increased straining during a bowel movement)
- Itching, swelling, pain, burning around the anus or rectum
- Leakage of fluid or mucus discharge from the anus
- Loss of bowel control (fecal incontinence)
- Lumps felt on or around the anus
- Feelings of pain or pressure in or around the anus
- Recurrent presence of anal abscesses or pockets of pus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area
- Narrower stools
- A sense of fullness and constant need to go to the washroom
- A few patients may also complain of lower back pain
- Women may experience vaginal dryness
What are the four types of anal cancer?
Anal cancer or anal carcinoma is a rare type of cancer that starts in the cells lining the anus, the opening that connects the lower part of the large intestine (rectum) to the outside of the body through which waste passes. There are four different types of anal cancer. They are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma:
- These develop from the cells that produce mucus within the anal canal.
- Basal cell carcinoma:
- This is a type of skin cancer that may develop in the skin around the anus.
- Malignant melanoma:
- This is another type of skin cancer that may affect the cells called melanocytes.
What causes anal cancer? 9 Risk Factors
The exact cause of anal cancer is unknown. 9 Possible risk factors of anal cancer are:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common cause. It affects the moist membranes or lining of the body. Having anal sex may usually increase the risk of developing an HPV infection.
- Having a history of other cancers, such as cervical cancer, or vaginal or vulval cancer.
- Smoking is often considered a risk factor for developing almost any type of cancer.
- People who take drugs to suppress their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs), including people who have received organ transplants may have an increased risk of anal cancer. Diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, may also suppress the immune system and increase the risk of anal cancer.
- The risk of developing anal cancer increases with age. 50 percent of anal cancer cases diagnosed are in people aged 65 years or older.
- More common in women than men. However, more African-American males get anal cancer than females.
- The presence of anal fistulas or abnormal openings in the anus and frequent swelling in or around the anus or rectum.
- People who have had anal warts are more likely to get anal cancer. These are noncancerous growths that may occur just outside the anus and in the lower anal canal. They are caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Other things that can increase the risk for anal cancer include having multiple sex partners and poor social or living conditions.
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Treatment and survival rate of anal cancer
The treatment of anal cancer varies depending on factors, such as the stage of anal cancer and the patient’s general health and preferences.
Surgery is often a primary treatment for anal cancer. Depending on the location, type, and size of your tumor, the surgeon will most likely decide between one of two surgeries
- Local resection: If the tumor is small and has not spread, the surgeon may choose to remove the tumor and some of the tissue surrounding the anus. The muscles surrounding the area are spared (if possible) to allow control of bowel movements after recovery.
- Abdominoperineal resection: In this procedure, a surgeon removes the anus, rectum, and part of the colon. The intestine is redirected to an opening in the abdomen, called a stoma. A special bag is attached to the stoma to collect waste in place of the body’s normal bowel movements. During surgery, the surgeon may also remove lymph nodes surrounding the area to determine whether they contain cancer. This type of surgery is often required for large tumors or those that have grown into the abdominal wall.
The anal cancer treatment uses high-energy X-rays to reach and destroy cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy used for anal cancer treatment:
- External radiation therapy: It uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer site.
- Internal radiation therapy: Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer site.
It uses specialized drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by destroying the cells or by preventing them from making new cells.
The five-year survival rate
Anal cancer is a serious disease. However, treatments are effective, and most people can be cured. About 50 percent of anal cancers are diagnosed before cancer has spread beyond the anus.
The five-year survival rate for localized anal cancer is 80 percent.
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Anal cancer, cancer located at the end of the large intestine, has symptoms that include anal or rectal bleeding, anal pain or pressure, anal discharge or itching, a change in bowel movements, and/or a lump in the anal region. Treatment for anal cancer may involve radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery and depends upon the stage of the cancer, its location, whether cancer is eradicated after the first treatment, and whether the patient has HIV.
Anal cancer is usually curable when found localized. Early detection remains the key to long-term survival as it is in many forms of cancer.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Gardasil (HPV Vaccine)Gardasil HPV Vaccine (Recombinant Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent Vaccine) is a vaccine synthesized using recombinant technology. Gardasil is a single dose injection. Gardasil is for the prevention of HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 infections in girls and women aged 9 to 26 years. Gardasil also approved for preventing genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 in males aged 9 to 26 years. Gardasil protects against cervical cancer, abnormal or precancerous cervical, vaginal, or vulvar lesions, and genital warts. Side effects of Gardasil include fever, vomiting, nausea, fainting, dizziness, pain, swelling, itching, or redness at the site of injection.
How Do You Get Anal Cancer?The cells in the body grow, reproduce, and die under the controlled conditions. When the cells start growing uncontrollably with a tendency to spread to other body parts, it is called cancer.
human papillomavirus vaccine, nonavalentHuman papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) vaccine, nonavalent is a vaccine used to protect against diseases and cancers caused by human papillomavirus infection, a sexually transmitted disease. Common side effects of human papillomavirus vaccine, nonavalent include injection site reactions, high temperature (pyrexia), headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea, upper abdominal pain, muscle pain (myalgia), mouth and throat pain (oropharyngeal pain), influenza, and upper respiratory tract infection. Do not take if pregnant.
octreotideOctreotide is a medication used in the treatment of acromegaly, a disorder associated with excessive blood levels of growth hormone, and severe, watery diarrhea caused by certain types of gastrointestinal (GI) tumors. Common side effects of octreotide include headache, dizziness, fatigue, pain at injection site, abdominal distress, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth (xerostomia), biliary tract disease, and others. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Causes and Risk Factors for Anal CancerThe cause of any cancer in the body is mutation or damage to the cell’s DNA. What exactly triggers this change is unknown, but some factors may increase the risk of anal cancer. In several cases, the anal cancer develops without the presence of any risk factor.
What Does Anal Cancer Feel Like?Anal cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the tissues of the anus. The anus is the terminal part of the digestive tract. It is the channel through which the poop passes out of the body from the rectum (the last part of the large bowel) during a bowel movement.