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Anal Cancer

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Introduction

Anal cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the anus. It develops in the anal canal when cells in the canal’s inner lining begin to multiply abnormally. The anal canal is the passage between your anus and rectum. Anal cancer is common in people in their sixties. It rarely occurs in people under the age of 35. Detected early, it is treatable.

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What Are the Symptoms of Anal Cancer?

  • ● Pain and bleeding from the anus or rectum.
  • ● Tissue growth in the anal canal.
  • ● Tissue growth near the anus.
  • ● Itching in the anal area.
  • ● Irregular bowel movement.

What Causes Anal Cancer?

The exact causes of anal cancer are not known. According to experts, anal cancer is closely associated with human papillomavirus HPV – a sexually transmitted disease. The underlying cause of most anal cancer cases is HPV.

What Are the Types of Anal Cancer?

  • Cancer of the anal canal: Most anal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. They occur in the squamous cells that line the anal canal and the anal margin.
  • Basal cell carcinoma: A cancer of the skin around the anus.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This rare type occurs in the cells around the upper part of the anus, close to the rectum.
  • Melanoma: This type of anal cancer starts in the lining or skin that makes the brown pigment called melanin. Anal melanomas are hard to detect and are typically discovered at a later stage. Very few cases of anal cancer belong to this type.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: This type of tumor starts in the stomach or small intestine and spreads to the anal region.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Anal Cancer?

  • Age: Anal cancer typically occurs in people over the age of 50.
  • Sexual partners: Having many sexual partners may increase the chances of anal cancer.
  • Anal sex: Anal sex can increase the chances of anal cancer.
  • Smoking: Smoking is bad for health in many ways and can increase the likelihood of anal cancer.
  • Medication: Takin immunosuppressive drugs can increase the risk of anal cancer

How is Anal Cancer Diagnosed?

  • A rectal examination: Your doctor will examine your rectum to check for unusual tissue growth.
  • A visual inspection of the anal canal and rectum: Your doctor will use a device called an anoscope to check your rectum and anal canal.
  • An ultrasound: Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound to check for cancerous growth.
  • A biopsy: Your doctor will biopsy any unusual tissue growth. A biopsy can confirm the presence of cancerous cells.

How is Anal Cancer Treated?

  • Radiation therapy: Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy based on the stage of cancer. It may be used along with chemotherapy or after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is done in most cases of anal cancer. Your doctor may recommend it before or after the surgery or if cancer recurs.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is used to boost your body’s immune system with the help of certain medicines.

What Are the Complications Associated With Anal Cancer Surgery?

  • ● Pain.
  • ● Damage to nearby tissues.
  • ● Blood clots in the legs.
  • ● Bleeding.
  • ● Infection.
  • ● Adhesions in the stomach.

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FAQ's

How common is Anal Cancer

The chances of developing Anal Cancer are about 1 in 500 in a person’s lifetime.

How Fast does Anal Cancer Spread?

A person’s age and other existing Risk Factors affect the rate at which Anal Cancer spreads.

How do you know if it's Haemorrhoids or Cancer?

Haemorrhoids are also known as Piles. They are swollen veins in your anal area. Some of the symptoms of Haemorrhoids may overlap with Anal Cancer. However, you should see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Is Anal Cancer Curable?

It depends on the stage of Cancer. Typically, a stage 1 Anal Cancer has a higher chance of being treated successfully. A stage 4 Anal Cancer is comparatively hard to cure because, at this stage, cancer would have already spread to the other parts of the body.

Can you Prevent Anal Cancer?

By practising safe sex, quitting smoking, and getting vaccinated against HPV, you can prevent Anal Cancer to a great extent.

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