Anal cancer is malignant tumor which arises from the anus. It’s important not to be confused with colorectal cancer, which starts in the rectum or colon. Statistically speaking, one in four people who suffer from anal cancer find about out their disease after it has spread on the lymph nodes and one in ten people finds out about it after it has spread on other organs.
Although it’s not as common as colorectal rectal or colon cancer, anal cancer has been on the increase, probably because early diagnosis is very rare. This emphasizes the importance of early detection; however, it’s quite difficult since a lot of the symptoms tend to appear in the later stages of the disease. The most common ones are:
- Rectal itching
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal
- Irregular bowel movements
- Rectal bleeding
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin
- Anal discharge
Some of the contributing factors to anal cancer are:
- Weak immunity
- Anal irritation
The most vulnerable group is people over the age of 60, however, men younger than 35 and women older than 60 have an increased risk of anal cancer as well.
As previously mentioned, the treatment can be successful if the disease is diagnosed in the early stadium. The procedures for its diagnosis are:
Digital rectal exam-the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the patient’s rectum and looks for anything unusual, like growths.
Anoscopy– the doctor inspects the anal canal and rectum for anything unusual with the help of a lighted tube, known as anoscope.
Other procedures used for diagnosis of anal cancer are PET, MRI, CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound, and biopsy.