Anal cancer is a type of cancer that begins at the opening of the rectum (also known as anus). This unusual form of cancer is overlooked by almost everyone due to the location of the affected area. Most people who have experienced the symptoms of anal cancer do not discuss it with neither their doctor nor the people they know due to embarrassment.
Anal cancer should not be confused with colorectal cancer. Whereas colorectal cancer affects the whole large intestine and the rectum, the anal cancer affects only the beginning of the rectum.
This unusual form of cancer is overlooked by almost everyone, because of the location of the affected area. A lot of people who have experienced the symptoms of this type of cancer, do not discuss it with neither their doctor nor the people they know, because of embarrassment.
The odds that anal cancer can be found early depend on the location, as well as the type of the cancer.
Those cancers that begin higher up in the anal canal are less likely to cause some symptoms, as well as be found early. Anal melanomas tend to spread earlier than some other cancers, making it even harder to diagnose them early.
Anal cancer should not be confused with colorectal cancer, as the colorectal one affects the whole large intestine and the rectum, while the anal cancer affects only the beginning of the rectum.
Each year, there are more than 8,000 Americans which are diagnosed with anal cancer. It is expected that 1,000 of them will die from it. Statistically, one of four people who suffer from this disease, has been diagnosed after the disease has spread to lymph nodes, and one of every ten people has been diagnosed after it has spread to other organs. Although this type of cancer is not as frequent as some other types of cancer, like colon, rectal or colorectal cancer, the number of people suffering from it has grown rapidly in the last decade.
– Symptoms of anal cancer
It is very difficult to detect the presence of anal cancer when it is in its early stages, as most of the symptoms are not present during that time. However, when cancer progresses it will usually cause a lot of different symptoms, including the following:
– Rectal bleeding;
– Rectal itching;
– A lump or mass at the anal opening;
– Pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal area;
– Narrowing of stool or other changes in bowel movements;
– Abnormal discharge from the anus;
– Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin areas.
Most often, these kinds of symptoms are more likely to be caused by benign conditions, such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal warts. Still, if you notice that you have any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your doctor and check them, so that the cause can be found and treated as well, if needed.
In most of the cases, the cause of anal cancer remains unclear, but still, there are a lot of factors which can increase the risk of developing anal cancer, such as frequent irritation of the anus, smoking, and a weakened immune system. Those people who are at high risk of developing anal cancer, are the ones older than 60 years. 80% of the cases have been detected in people who belong to this category. Men who are under 35 are at higher risk to develop this uncommon disease, when compared to women who belong to the same age category. However, after the age of 50 , women are at higher risk of developing this type of cancer.
– HOW TO DETECT ANAL CANCER EARLY?
Detecting this type of cancer during its early stages is decisive in overcoming it. There are a lot of different procedures which can be used to detect the presence of anal cancer. Here, you can see some of them:
– Digital rectal exam:First of all, the doctor looks at the outside of the anus, in order to find out whether you have hemorrhoids or fissures. After that, he puts on a latex glove and inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to search for lumps or any other abnormalities.
– Anoscopy: This method is with a small, tubular instrument, called anoscope, which is inserted a few inches into the anus, so the doctor can determine whether you have anal fissures, anal polyps, hemorrhoids, infection, or tumors. The doctor with use this method and perform the procedure only if he finds something abnormal during the digital rectal exam.
– Biopsies, ultrasounds, x – rays, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans: all of these procedures can be used to detect the presence of anal cancer. But, they are also surrounded with controversies, because of the many studies which suggest that they either spread or cause cancer.
source : livehealthywithus.com