Anal cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, especially if not detected in its early stages. The fact that it is in the intimate area makes it a taboo that most people are unable to speak, which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat. What are the early signs of anal cancer?
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer develops in the opening of the rectum, or more simply the anus, following a bump resulting from abnormal or uncontrolled growth of cells. Although it is not widespread, it is often overlooked because its symptoms are very awkward and not easy to evoke.
Colorectal cancer and anal cancer are two different cancers. The first attacks the colon and rectum in full, whereas the latter only affects the anus, that is to say the opening of the rectum. It affects more women than men, and one in four is diagnosed with this type of cancer after it has spread to the lymph nodes; one in ten after metastasis.
Unfortunately, cases of anal cancer are on the rise recently, although it is still rarer than colon, rectal or colorectal cancer.
What are the symptoms of anal cancer?
Like all cancers, early detection of anal cancer is crucial for its treatment and its chances of recovery. However, it is not always easy to detect it because the symptoms are not always present.
Here are the 6 main symptoms of anal cancer:
- Itching in the anus
- Sensitivity or anal pain
- Change in bowel habits
- Anal bleeding
- Abnormal discharge from the anus
- Tough area or a lump near the anus
Although we do not know the exact cause of anal cancer, there are certain factors that favor its appearance: a weakened immune system, smoking, frequent anal irritation.
How to detect the beginning of anal cancer?
As mentioned above, early detection is the key to successful treatment. The medicine offers many methods to detect anal cancer, including:
- Rectal examination: the doctor examines the anal cavity with his fingers in an attempt to detect any abnormalities or lumps at the anus.
- Anoscopy: this method allows a better view of the inside of the anus. This is done using an anoscope – a small tubular instrument that the doctor inserts inside the anus. Anoscopy is usually performed after the doctor has detected an abnormality during anal touch.
Therefore, to avoid any health disorders, prevention is better than cure. Opt for a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise.