Anal cancer can be discovered early in the disease’s course and the early found ones often have symptoms and signs that lead people to visit a doctor. But some of them may not cause any symptom until they are in an advanced stage.
The anal cancer begins at the rectum’s opening and it is overlooked by almost everyone because of the location of the affected area. People who have experience with anal cancer symptoms usually don’t discuss it with other people or their doctor due to embarrassment.
The probability that this cancer can be discovered much early is depending on the type and the location of the cancer. The cancers that start much higher in the canal are less likely to cause any symptom and to be found early. The anal melanomas are spreading earlier than the other cancers and they make it harder to be diagnosed earlier.
This cancer shouldn’t be confused with colorectal cancer because the anal cancer affects the beginning of the rectum and the colorectal cancer affects the rectum and the whole large intestine.
More than 8,000 Americans per year are diagnosed with this type of cancer. It’s expected that one thousands of them will die from it. One of four people who suffer from this cancer has been diagnosed after it has been spread to the lymph nodes and 1 in 10 people has been diagnosed after it’s spread to other organs.
However this type of cancer isn’t as frequent as the other like colorectal, rectal or colon cancer.
These are the symptoms of anal cancer:
The anal cancer’s symptoms are very hard to be detected as the most of them don’t appear during the earliest stages. But as it progresses it causes numerous symptoms like: swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal areas, abnormal discharge from the anus, narrowing of stool (or other bowel movement changes), feeling of fullness or pain in the anal area, lump or mass at the anal opening, rectal itching and rectal bleeding.
Most of these symptoms are cause by benign conditions like anal warts, anal fissures or hemorrhoids. But if you have some of them, you should visit a doctor and check them so the cause can be treated, if it is needed.
The cause of this type of cancer is unclear in most of the cases, but there are also factors that increase the risk of developing the cancer like weakened immune system, smoking and frequent anal irritation. Those who are older than 60 years are more likely to develop anal cancer. 80% of the detected cases are of this group of people. Also, men under 35 are more likely to develop the cancer, while women after their 50s are at higher risk of developing it.
How to detect it early?
There are numerous procedures that can detect the presence of this type of cancer and these are some of them:
*Digital rectal exam*
At first, the doctor checks out the anus outside area to find if there are fissures or hemorrhoids. After that, the doctor inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to see if there are lumps of some other abnormalities.
It is small and tubular instrument (anoscope) that is inserted by the doctor few inches in the anus so it can be found if you have tumors, infection, hemorrhoids, anal polyps or anal fissures. This procedure is done only if the doctor finds abnormalities during the rectal exam.
*PET scans, MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies*
All of these procedures are used in detecting the presence of anal cancer, but they are surrounded by controversies because of many studies suggesting that they either cause or spread cancer.HEALTH