Anal Cancer

Abdomen | Oncology | Anal Cancer (Disease)


Anal cancer is a type of cancer which arises from the anus, the distal orifice of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a distinct entity from the more common colorectal cancer.

The symptoms of anal cancer usually develop gradually and include: bleeding from the anus, itching or discomfort in the anal area, frequent desire to defecate, a lump in or near the anus.

Causes and Risk factors

Anal cancer forms when a genetic mutation turns normal, healthy cells into abnormal cells. Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can separate from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).

Risk factors include the following: being over 50 years old, being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), having many sexual partners, having receptive anal intercourse (anal sex), frequent anal redness, swelling, and soreness, having anal fistulas (abnormal openings), smoking cigarettes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The following tests and procedures may be used: physical exam and history, digital rectal examination, anoscopy, proctoscopy, endorectal ultrasound, biopsy.

The usual treatment is chemotherapy with radiotherapy. In about 2 in 3 people, this treatment causes the tumor to shrink so that surgery is not needed. In most people, treatment is curative. However, in rare cases, surgery is necessary to remove the anus and part of the rectum. ...