In the past few decades, cancer has become very present both in the medical community as well as in the media as a result of its extremely difficult treatment and its aggressive symptoms. Unfortunately, there is one cancer type that is usually overlooked because of its location and its taboo status among people – the anal cancer.
What is actually the anal cancer?
We are going to explain you what is actually anal cancer – this cancer type begins at the rectum or anus opening, and it isn’t very common disease. In addition, anal cancer is related to sex and dirtiness, and therefore it is often overlooked and those people who notice some of the symptoms of this cancer type feel very uncomfortable discussing it with their doctors.
It is important to make a difference between anal cancer and colorectal cancer. In other words, colorectal cancer affects the entire rectum and also the large intestine, while anal cancer just affects the rectum opening.
It is estimated that about 8,000 Americans are diagnosed with anal cancer and about 1,000 of them die as a result of it each year. Moreover, about one of four anal cancer patients are diagnosed after the disease has spread to their lymph nodes and also about one of ten anal cancer patients are diagnosed after it has spread to other body organs.
Although this cancer type isn’t as common as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer, there are more and more people suffering from this type of cancer. Of course, the main cause for it may be that it is not detected and treated in its early stages.
The main symptoms of anal cancer
It can be of a great importance to detect anal cancer in its early stage when it is not spread to other tissues and organs, but sometimes its symptoms aren’t noticeable.
However, if the cancer has spread, there are several symptoms of this disease, such as:
– Anal bleeding
– Anal tenderness or pain
– Itching in the anus
– A hard area or a lump near the anus
– Unusual discharge from the anus
– Unusual movements of the bowel
In most cases the causes of anal cancer aren’t specific however there are some factors that can lead to this disease, for instance: frequent anus irritation, compromised immunity, and smoking. Furthermore, the mostly affected age group is the adults over 60 years. While, the mostly affected age group for the development of colon cancer are men under the age of 35 and women over 60.
Methods for detecting anal cancer in its early stage
As you know, if the cancer detected in its early stages, then, of course, the chances of successful treatment are higher.
There are some of the methods and procedures that are commonly used for detection of this cancer type:
- Digital rectal exam: It is an examination whereby a physician examines the anal cavity for any abnormalities and lumps using the fingers with a lubricated glove.
- Anoscopy: In this procedure, a physician uses an anoscope, i.e., a small tubular instrument, which is put into your anus for thorough examination of the inside of the anus. Usually, it performed in case the physician had discovered some abnormality during the digital rectal exam.
- CT and PET scans, MRIs, x-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies: These are the procedures commonly used for anal cancer detection. However, many people claim that these examinations are controversial and they can develop or spread cancer.