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Anal Cancer

Learn about anal cancer

Anal cancer refers to tumors that occur in and around the anus, which is the distal orifice at the end of the gastrointestinal tract. While many tumors are benign, anal cancer can be quite serious and differs greatly from colorectal cancer, which has different staging, presentation and treatment altogether. Anal cancer often derives from a prior benign polyp or tumor, which is why any irregular habits and issues with the anus should be examined closely by your doctor.

Cause of anal cancer

The cause of anal cancer can depend on a number of factors; however, one such cause is known as dysplasia. This refers to presently benign warts, polyps or tumors in the anus that have the potential to become cancerous. However, many anal cancers derive from squamous cell cancers, which come from the squamous cells in the lining of the anus and anal canal. The cause of anal tumors and polyps isn't always known, though the human papillomavirus can be a cause.

Anal cancer symptoms

Symptoms of anal cancer can include a change in bowel habits, bloating, a lump near the anus, rectal bleeding, itching or discharge. Women may experience lower back pain due to the cancer's pressure on the vagina. They may also experience vaginal dryness.

Anal cancer treatment

Treatment for anal cancer depends on the stage. For stage I anal cancer patients, surgery to remove the anus and the cancer can prove to be the cure for this disease. However, the risk with this is fecal incontinence, and many patients of anal cancer need to undergo colostomies in order to combat this. Chemotherapy, radiation, and infrared photocoagulation can also help with anal cancer. The 5-year survival rate for stage IV anal cancer is 45%, which makes this one of the more curable cancers.

Prevention of anal cancer can be helped by getting regular anal PAP smears after the age of 50 years. This will determine any risk for anal cancer and it can be caught early, making treatment successful and a cure within sight for these individuals. The Gardasil vaccine is also a factor in prevention of anal cancer.

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