In the past couple of decades both in the medical community and in the media cancer has become very present, mostly because of its aggressive symptoms and very difficult treatment. Nevertheless, because of where it is located and its taboo status among the population anal cancer is a form of cancer which is usually overlooked.
What Is Anal Cancer?
At the opening of the rectum begins anal cancer, also known as anus and it is not very common. It is usually overlooked and people who might experience some of the symptoms associated with this type of cancer feel uncomfortable discussing it with their physician because this type of cancer is mostly associated with dirtiness or sex.
Anal cancer is different from colorectal cancer. On the entire rectum and large intestine has an effect the colorectal cancer, and anal cancer only affects the opening of the rectum.
With anal cancer every year, about 8,000 Americans get diagnosed and it is estimated that 1,000 of them are likely to die. After its spreading to the lymph nodes nearly one of four people with anal cancer gets diagnosed and one of ten people gets diagnose after it has expanded to other organs. The number of people suffering from anal cancer is constantly increasing even though it is not as common as colorectal, rectal or colon cancer and the reason for this may be that it is not treated in its early stages.
Anal Cancer Symptoms
To detect anal cancer in its early stages it is very important, however that can be hard because its symptoms are not always present. Nevertheless, there are a number of symptoms if the cancer progresses, including:
- Itching in the anus
- Tenderness or pain in the anus
- Unusual bowel movements
- Anal bleeding
- Unusual discharge from the anus
- Presence of a hard area or a lump near the anus
Not specific in most cases are the causes of anal cancer, but some of the factors that contribute to it are compromised immune system, smoking, and frequent anus irritation. The mostly affected age group are adults who have over 60 years. Also likely to develop colon cancer are men under the age of 35 and women over 60.
How to Detect Cancer in Its Early Stage
If it is detected in early stages the chances of successfully overcome cancer are higher. There are a number of procedures that can be done which can detect cancer including:
Digital Rectal Exam: For any abnormalities and lumps a physician examines the anal cavity with their fingers after having put on a lubricated glove during this exam.
Anoscopy: In order to get a more thorough look of the inside of the anus during this exam, the doctor puts an anoscope, which is a small tubular instrument into your anus. If the doctor discovers something during the digital rectal exam this test is usually performed.
PET scans, MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies are procedures which are usually used for detection of anal cancer. Nevertheless, there is a number of people who claim that they can cause or spread cancer and who find these tests controversial.