What Are Anal Cancer Symptoms?
Signs of anal cancer can include:
- Pain in the anus area
- Bleeding from rectum or anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area
- Large growth in the anal canal
- Itching in the anal area
- Lumps that appear like hemorrhoids
- Narrow stools
- Anal discharge
Many people can confuse some of these warts, hemorrhoids, or anal tearing symptoms. However, you should see a doctor when you notice any symptoms, as it can also rule out anal cancer. They will show you anal cancer images with the right treatment method to further clarify things.
Common Causes Of Anal Cancer
Anal cancer cells form when the healthy cells in your rectum and anus region turn unhealthy. Healthy cells multiply and grow at a set rate and die at a time. But, in anal cancer, abnormal cells multiply and grow out of control and don’t die. These accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells also invade tissues and spread from the tumor site to other body areas looking like anal cancer lump.
Anal cancer is related closely to the sexually transmitted infection of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV diagnosis was made in most anal cancer cases. HPV is the most common result of anal cancer.
Who Is At Risk?
Many factors impact your anal cancer risk, like:
Having multiple sex partners: People with multiple sexual partners have a higher anal cancer risk.
Smoking: Smoking is another cause that puts you at risk of anal cancer.
Drugs or conditions that suppress immunity: People also take drugs to suppress immunity (immunosuppressive drugs). People who have gone through an organ transplant are at higher risk of having anal cancer.
HIV: The virus causing AIDS suppresses the immune system and puts the patient at risk of developing anal cancer.
HPV infection: People with HPV infection have more chances of getting anal cancer. However, the majority of people don’t get it.
Low Immunity: When the body doesn’t fight infections, viruses such as HPV become active, triggering anal cancer. HIV, the virus resulting in AIDS, also weakens the body’s immune system, like the medicines for preventing rejection in organ transplant patients.
Medical experts are researching and learning more about how HPV can cause anal cancer. Researchers have evidence of causing HPV anal squamous cell carcinomas. However, the virus also has an important role in causing anal adenocarcinomas.
How To Detect Anal Cancer?
Doctors detect anal cancer in rectal exams by searching for anal cancer lumps. They also diagnose the problem in minor processes like getting rid of hemorrhoids. Plus, they detect cancer with other local processes like endorectal ultrasound, anoscopy, or proctoscopy.
When doctors suspect cancer, they conduct a biopsy and test the pathology specimen. Staging workup needs a stomach or CT pelvic scan, a pelvic MRI scan to assess pelvic lymph nodes, and a chest x-ray with liver work-study. They often perform PET scans.
Who Can Get Anal Cancer?
A most anal cancer diagnosis is made for people aged above 60. Anal cancer is common in men before the age of 35. However, after 50, women have a higher risk of developing anal cancer. The anal cancer rate is also six times higher in single men than in married men.
Having receptive anal intercourse is related to developing anal cancer. Anal infection of human papillomavirus (HPV) results in genital warts, a major risk factor for cancer.
Types Of Anal Cancer
Anal cancer occurs when cancer-causing cells spread uncontrollably and form a tumor. Different cancer types can form in the anus, depending on where cancer begins.
Squamous cell cancer: The anal canal links the rectum out of the body, and squamous cells line the canal. These cells appear similar to fish scales under a microscopic view. Most anal cancer cases are of the squamous cell as they form with it.
Adenocarcinoma: The glandular and squamous cell growth occurs in the transitional zone. It is where the anal canal and the rectum meet. Another organ is the Epithelial, which has mucus, helping the stool pass smoothly through the anus. Adenocarcinoma also develops from glandular anus cells. These types of anal cancers are about 3 to 9%.
Precancerous conditions: Precancerous conditions refer to tumors that invade other areas. It is common in anal squamous intraepithelial neoplasia (ASIL) and anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN).
Benign tumors: Benign tumors are noncancerous tumors. In the anus, it includes skin tags, polyps, genital warts, granular cell tumors, etc.
Treatment For Anal Cancer
Currently, anal cancer has no complete cure, but many diagnosed people can live with it and have a fulfilling and healthy life. Depending on the cancer stage and your age, your doctor can provide you with different anal cancer treatment plans:
Local resect surgery removes the tumor in the anus with healthy tissue. The process is common for people with cancer in the lower anus. They ensure it doesn’t reach nearby areas. Doctors perform the surgery for cancers in their early stages and small tumors.
The main surgery form is Abdominoperineal (AP) resection. The surgery is reserved for people who didn’t go well with other treatment types. Also, it works for those in the late cancer stage. Doctors make an abdomen cut to remove the anus or other colon parts. As the surgery removes the low GI tract portion, the surgeons form an ostomy (the link between skin and GI tract.)
The therapy type uses drugs to treat cancer and stops cancer cells growth. It happens either by stopping the multiplying of cells or killing problem cells. The person takes chemotherapy medication by mouth or injects it into veins. The drugs then enter the blood and treat cancer cells spread across the body.
Different methods are being tested in clinical trials.
Radiation therapy also uses a machine outside the body to treat cancer. The machine sends radiation to the affected cancer area.
Internal therapy also uses radioactive forms in seeds, wires, needles, or catheters placed near the cancer site.
The doctor starts the therapy based on the stage and type of cancer. Doctors use internal and external therapy types to treat rectal cancer.
Radiation therapy is common for cancer types like anus cancer. Doctors use X-rays to find them by using different methods to kill these cancer cells. But these methods can also kill healthy tissues. The anal cancer treatment has a local approach, and doctors use it with other options to treat cancer.
The survival of a person with a rectal cancer diagnosis depends on the stage at which doctors detect cancer. Experts use stats to rule out how many people can live up to 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. Most people can live healthy and long lives after getting diagnosed. Detecting early ensures sustained health.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the overall five-year survival rate for anal cancer is 66.9 percent, depending on data from 2007 to 2013. Also, people with local anal cancer have a survival rate of 81.3 percent.
According to ACS, the survival chances are at least five years:
- 82% for local cancer, which spreads beyond the original site.
- 64% for area cancer, which traveled to nearby sites.
- 30% for distant cancer affecting other organs or areas, like the liver.
Experts made these predictions on stats from 2008 to 2014. With improving treatments and knowledge, the outlook also improves.
Other factors are the person’s age and health. However, it’s best to identify the problem early so experts can use more effective treatment methods. Hence, you must visit a doctor if you notice any changes near the anus region.
In most cases, doctors can detect anal cancer early and make the right diagnosis based on anal cancer pictures. It is easy to detect in the lower anal canal. It’s best to detect cancers early to avoid any mishap. At University Cancer Centers, we provide the most up-to-date methods for detecting and treating all types of anal cancers. Our respected surgeons are highly experienced and follow a comprehensive treatment approach. They recommend what’s best for your health and specialize in comprehensive patient care. Consult our doctors 24×7 if you have any health issues or queries.