In general, cancer has become one of the most serious health issues among people. Cancer is the condition when the cells in the body begin to grow and their growth becomes out of control. Cancer cells can grow pretty much in any body part and spread throughout the whole body. Anal cancer refers to the lump of abnormal and atypical cells in the anus area, at the opening of the rectum, and therefore should not be confused with colorectal cancer which refers to the intestine and the entire rectum.
Anal Cancer Symptoms
Early detection of anal cancer is of great importance. Unfortunately, the symptoms of anal cancer are not present in the early stages of cancer development. However, the symptoms begin to appear as cancer develops. Here are the most common symptoms of anal cancer:
- Atypical bowel movements
- Atypical anus discharge
- Hard area or lump around the anus
- Anal bleeding
- Soreness or pain in the anus
- Itching and irritation in the anus
Who’s at Risk?
Furthermore, many factors can cause anal cancer or increase the risk of its development, including weak immune system, smoking, and frequent anus irritation. Other factors that increase the chances of cancer are the following:
Age: People over the age of 60, men under the age of 35, and women over the age of 50.
Sexual habits: Both men and women who have changed many sexual partners and engage in anal sex
HIV: Human papillomavirus increases the risk of many cancers, including anal cancer
Immunosuppressive Drugs: People who take medication to suppress immunity, such as those who had organ transplantation surgery
How to Detect Anal Cancer?
1. Digital Rectum Exam
You might find this exam uncomfortable, but it is really important for detecting anal cancer in the early stages of development. First, the doctor examines the outside of the anus and looks if there are any hemorrhoids or fissures. Then, the doctor examines the inside of the anus with their fingers in the anal cavity and looks for any lumps or abnormalities.
Anoscope is a small instrument that looks like a tube that provides a clearer view of the anus cavity. The doctor inserts this instrument in the anus and searches for any anal infections, hemorrhoids, fissures, polyps, or tumors. This method is applied only if the doctor notices something abnormal during the first digital rectum exam.
3. X-rays, Ultrasounds, Biopsies, CT Scans, and Pet Scans
All of the listed procedures may be used for early detection of anal cancer. Still, all of these methods are quite controversial since they are actually considered to cause or spread cancer.