Anal Cancer is a very uncommon cancer that occurs in the anal canal of the body. However, once it occurs it may spread to other parts of the body. Anal cancer that is not cancerous can turn cancerous over time. The anal canal refers to a small tube situated at the end of the rectum through which stool leaves the body.
Anal cancer can cause a few symptoms such as anal pain and rectal bleeding. Most people who are diagnosed with Anal cancer are treated through a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. However, this combination can lead to a generation of certain side effects that can occur during the treatment process.
Symptoms of Anal Cancer
The symptoms of anal cancer can be related to the symptoms of other diseases and conditions. These can include symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), haemorrhoids, and gastrointestinal diseases. Hence, keeping this in mind, some of the symptoms of anal cancer can include:
Bleeding from the rectum or anus
Change in bowel movement
Pain near the anus
Discharge or itching from the anus
Pressure or formation of lump near the anus
You can talk to your doctor about any symptoms or signs that bother you, especially if you think you are at risk of developing anal cancer. If you are confused as to why you have the above symptoms, you should ask your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor will be able to give you the correct diagnosis and treat you accordingly.
Causes of Anal Cancer
Anal Cancer can be caused due to abnormal growth of cells in the body. These abnormal cells can grow and accumulate creating certain masses known as tumours. Cancer cells that are advanced can spread to other organs of the body and interfere with their functions.
Anal cancer is mainly caused due to HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV refers to a sexually transmitted disease that occurs during sexual intercourse.
Apart from this, anal cancer can even be caused when cancer from one organ spreads to the anus.
Types of Anal Cancer
Anal cancer can be found in various types mainly depending on the size of the tumour that develops. The cells that have an abnormal growth in the body are known as Tumour. A tumour can either be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). When left untreated, malignant tumours can spread to other parts of the body. Some of the tumours related to anal cancer can include:
Benign tumours refer to noncancerous tumours. In the anus, benign tumours can include skin tags, polyps, genital warts, and granular cell tumours.
These conditions refer to benign tumours that have a possibility of becoming malignant over time. Precancerous conditions are common in Squamous Intraepithelial Neoplasia (ASIL) and Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN).
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of the most common anal cancer known. Squamous cells are available at the outermost line of the anal canal. Most of the people who are diagnosed with anal cancer generally have squamous cell carcinoma. This refers to malignant tumours that are developed in the anus due to abnormal squamous cells.
Bowen's Disease popularly known as Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, refers to the growth of abnormal cells on the surface tissues of the anal. These cells generally don't invade any deeper tissue levels of the anal.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma refers to the type of cancer that an individual can get on the skin when exposed to the sun. Hence, due to this, basal cell carcinoma is one of the rare forms of anal cancer.
Adenocarcinoma is another rare type of cancer that generally occurs from the adrenal glands and further moves on the anus.
Risk Factors of Anal Cancer
Being diagnosed with anal cancer can be very rare. However, there are a few people who are at risk of developing anal cancer as compared to others. Certain risk factors for anal cancer can include:
HPV refers to a type of sexually transmitted infection that can remain in the body even after the infection. In most cases of anal cancer, people are diagnosed with an HPV infection. HPV even leads to cervical cancer.
HIV is another disease that can be sexually transmitted. People who have HIV have a higher rate of being diagnosed with anal cancer. This mainly happens because HIV weakens the immune system making it difficult to fight the cancer cells.
Having repetitive anal sexual intercourse or having multiple sexual partners can increase your risk of being diagnosed with anal cancer. It is important to practice safe sexual intercourse such as wearing a condom to decrease the risk of being diagnosed with anal cancer. This mainly happens due to a high risk of contracting HPV.
People who smoke are more likely to be diagnosed with anal cancer even after they quit smoking.
Weak Immune System
Having a weak immune system will make it difficult to fight against any type of cancer. However, people who take immunosuppressants, those who have HIV, or those who have had an organ transplant are at a high risk of being diagnosed with anal cancer.
Anal cancer generally occurs in people who are aged about 50 years.
Diagnosis of Anal Cancer
Rectal hemorrhage is a common symptom of anal cancer. People who experience anus bleeding, itching, or pain must immediately seek medical attention before anal cancer goes beyond stage one. Anal cancer can be diagnosed during routine checks or treatments.
Anal cancer can even be diagnosed through digital rectal exams. These are typically performed as part of a prostate exam. Manual rectal exams, in which the doctor inserts a finger into the anus to feel any growths or lumps, are prevalent in both gender pelvic exams.
Another way to diagnose anal cancer can be by using Anal Pap Smears. This is a similar process to a traditional Pap Smear. However, in this case, the doctor will use a cotton swab to gather cells from the anal lining which will later be sent for further examination.
A biopsy can also be done to diagnose anal cancer.
Treatment of Anal Cancer
Although there is no definite cure for anal cancer, many people who are diagnosed with anal cancer live healthy and productive lives. Depending on your age and the stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
Chemotherapy can be used to kill cancer cells while at the same time preventing their growth. It can either be injected or given orally. Intermittent usage of pain relief medicines may also be necessary to control symptoms of anal cancer.
One of the most common surgeries for anal cancer is local resection surgery. It is done to remove the anus tumour as well as certain healthy tissue around it. This process is done only if anal cancer has not spread to other organs of the body. It is an ideal procedure for those who are diagnosed with anal cancer at an early stage, and for those who have tiny tumours.
Another surgery that can be conducted for anal cancer includes Abdominoperineal (AP) Resection. This is known to be a more invasive surgery. This procedure is for those people who did not react well to other treatments or those who are at an advanced stage.
How can CARE Hospitals help?
CARE Hospitals provides a comprehensive range of services to all its patients. The doctors and staff at CARE Hospitals have extensive expertise and training in the field of oncology. During the postoperative recovery period, we ensure that we offer effective care and help for all of our patients. CARE Hospitals ensure that it provides a secure environment for all its staff, patients, and visitors.
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