Often misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids, anal cancer is a rare type of cancer, but not less dangerous! Its symptoms are difficult to discuss because it is little embarrassing, this way making early diagnosis difficult. Let’s focus on the visible symptoms of anal cancer, its causes and methods of diagnosis.
The anal cancer is a cancer that develops in the anal canal. It should not be confused with rectal cancer that affects the inner walls of the rectum and manifests the same characteristics as colon cancer. We can distinguish between different forms of anal cancer, but the most common is squamous cell carcinoma.
Anal cancer however remains one of the rarest kinds of cancer; it represents only about 3% of malignant tumors in the anus or rectum. Although there is increased number of cases diagnosed with this cancer in recent years.
People at risk and causes of anal cancer
Anal cancer usually occurs in adults aged over 60, affecting 3 times more women than men. Its causes remain, to date unclear, but scientists evoke many factors that can cause the appearance of this type of cancer:
- Weakened immune system
- Regular irritation of the anus
In addition, squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of anal cancer is primarily caused by an infection caused by human papilloma virus-HPV (which is also responsible for the occurrence of cervical cancer) and can be transmitted through direct contact with the skin or mucous membranes, especially during intercourse.
Symptoms of anal cancer
If symptoms of other types of cancer can go unnoticed until advanced stages, the signs of anal cancer are quite marked and manifest themselves:
- Pain during defecation
- Itching in the anus
- Some anal bleeding
- Appearance of a bump or a hard lump near the anus
- Transit disorders
- Unusual discharge from the anus
It is very important not to ignore these warning signs and please do not be embarrassed to talk to your family or your doctor.
Diagnosis of anal cancer in the first phase
Early detection of all types of cancer, including anal cancer, is an essential step to increase the chances of recovery. Among the methods of diagnosis of anal cancer is the DRE (digital rectal exam) during which the doctor conducts a review of the anal cavity, using only with his fingers, for the presence of lumps or any abnormalities in this area.
Upon detection of anomalies, the patient must make anoscopy for the doctor to look inside the anal canal. This method of diagnosis is performed by inserting an anoscope, a kind of tube or speculum into the anus.
Other tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis of cancer and determine its nature, including, biopsy, CT or MRI.
Development and treatment of anal cancer
When anal cancer is detected at an early stage, the chances of recovery are much greater. Indeed, metastases are rare, as are recurrences after treatment.
To treat anal cancer, patients use chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 70% of cases recover after surgery treatments.