Anal Cancer, Stages, Anal Cancer Symptoms, and Images | The anal canal being the small tube at the end of the rectum and the stool comes out of this tube. Cancer in this tube is called anal cancer. Although cancer has become quite common nowadays, cases of anal cancer are rare.
Its main symptoms are bleeding from the rectum and anus. Most anal cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy and radiation. By taking both types of treatment together, the chances of recovery of the patient are increased but it can also cause some disadvantages. Further its symptoms, causes, and treatment are explained in detail.
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Stages of Anal Cancer
Like any other cancer, the doctor needs to know at what stage the patient’s rectal cancer has reached so that he can choose the appropriate treatment for the patient. The following tests are used to estimate the stage of anal cancer:
- CT scan
- PET scan
Stages of anal cancer
Stage 1: An anal cancer tumor is 2 centimeters or less in size. It is about the size of a peanut.
Stage 2: The tumor of anal cancer has grown to more than 2 centimeters but has not spread beyond the anal canal.
Stage 3 : (a) In this stage, the tumor of anal cancer can be of any size. It has spread to the lymph nodes around the rectum, bladder, urethra, or vagina. (b) Anal cancer has progressed to stage
Stage 3 (a) and has now spread to the lymph nodes around the pelvis.
Stage 4: Anal cancer has spread from the pelvis to other parts of the body.
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Anal Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of anal cancer are as follows:
- Bleeding from the rectum or anus.
- Pain around the anus.
- Growth of flesh in the anus.
- Itching in the anus.
Causes and risk factors of anal cancer
Why does anal cancer happen?
Anal cancer occurs when there is a change in the structure of your genes – medically called a “genetic mutation” – that makes healthy cells abnormal.
Healthy cells grow at a normal rate and die. But cancer cells do not die and continue to grow. Tumors are formed from their accumulation. Cancer cells spread from where they started to form nearby tissues and therefore this can lead to the formation of new tumors. In this way, cancer spreads in the body.
Anal cancer is also caused by the “Human Papilloma Virus” (HPV). It is the main cause of cancer in many sufferers.
Factors that increase the chances of getting anal cancer –
- Aging – People who are 50 years of age or older are more likely to develop anal cancer.
- Sex with multiple people – People who have sex with multiple people are more likely to get anal cancer.
- Anal sex – People who have anal sex are also more likely to get anal cancer.
- Smoking – Smoking also increases the risk of developing anal cancer.
- Cancer in the past – Those who have had cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, or vaginal cancer are more likely to develop colon cancer.
- Human Papillomavirus – HPV Infection can cause several types of cancer. such as anal cancer and cervical cancer. Sometimes HPV infection can cause genital warts too.
- Medicines that reduce immunity – People who take such medicines or who have had organ transplants are also likely to get anal cancer.
- HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) – also reduces immunity and increases the chances of getting anal cancer.
Anal Cancer Prevention
How to avoid anal cancer?
This cannot be avoided completely, but every effort can be made to avoid it. Its risk can be reduced in the following ways –
- Safe sex – practice safe sex or abstain from sexual activity. With this, HPV and HIV can be avoided. Use a condom.
- Vaccination for HPV – The Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines are given to protect against HPV. These vaccines can be given to both boys and girls.
- Avoid or stop smoking.
Anal Cancer Test
- Digital Examination of the anus and rectum
During a digital rectal examination, the doctor wears a glove and lubricates the finger, and inserts it into the rectum. If you have anal cancer, you may feel like a raised piece of abnormal flesh.
- Visual examination of the anus and rectum
The doctor can check for abnormalities of the anus and rectum with the help of a small lighted tube (anoscope).
- Ultrasound of the anus
To take a picture of the anal canal, the doctor inserts a thick thermometer-like instrument into the rectum and anus. That device sends out ultrasound waves. When these waves hit any tissue or organ, they reflect them and form a picture of them. Doctors check for abnormalities with the help of these images.
- Removal of the piece from tissue for laboratory examination
If abnormalities are found, doctors remove pieces of cancerous tissue (biopsy) and send them to the laboratory for examination. Tissues can be detected by examining them under a microscope to see if they will cause cancer.
Anal Cancer Treatment
Different types of techniques, methods and procedures are used for anal cancer treatment.
Combined chemotherapy and radiation
Physicians often treat anal cancer with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. Doing so increases the chances of curing cancer, but at the same time, the problems caused by them can also increase.
Vaccines are given to the anal cancer patient or tablets are given to eat. By doing this the cancer cells are destroyed. But due to this, the patient’s hair falls, and nausea and vomiting come.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy light such as X-rays. This light kills cancer cells. But due to this, your skin starts turning red, swelling around the anus and the anal canal becomes hard.
Radiation therapy lasts 4-5 weeks. Chemotherapy is done in the fifth or sixth week. Physicians treat anal cancer only after looking at the overall health and stage of cancer.
Anal Cancer Surgery
Depending on the stage of cancer, doctors choose the right procedure to remove the cancerous tumor of the rectum.
- Surgery for early-stage anal cancer
If the tumor is small, it is removed with surgery. During this procedure, the doctor removes the tumor along with the normal tissue around it.
Because the tumor is small, it can be removed without damaging the anal canal or the “anal sphincter muscles”.
Anal sphincter muscles help to expel stool from the body so they should not be harmed. Depending on the stage of cancer, the doctor may also suggest chemotherapy and radiation after surgery.
- Surgery for advanced anal cancer when it is not getting better with other treatments
If your cancer is not able to be cured with chemotherapy and radiation, then it means that your cancer has progressed to a great extent. In this case, your doctor may suggest an “abdominoperineal resection: a surgery specifically for anal cancer.” During this procedure, part of your anus, rectum, and colon are removed. The remaining part of the colon is attached to the stomach. This causes feces and urine to collect in a “colostomy bag”.
Complications of anal cancer
Anal cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Even if anal cancer spreads, it spreads to the liver and lungs only. If anal cancer spreads, it is very difficult to treat.
Few Anal Cancer Image / Picture of Anal Cancer
Picture of anal cancer or anal cancer image is very difficult to find out in the internet. However, we have giving some picture or image of anal cancer below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What is anal cancer?
Ans : It is cancer of the anus organ and anus is the end part of the colon from where the waste product or human feces come out.
- Is anal cancer curable?
Ans : Yes, anal cancer is curable if it has been detected in early stage.
- What is the anal cancer survival rate?
Ans : According to the Cleveland Clinic website anal cancer survival rate is 69%, this overall five year survival rate. If it is diagnosed in an early stage then survival rate goes upto 82%.
- What is anal cancer lump?
Ans : It is the early sign of anal cancer and seen as big mass or lump in the opening of the anus.
- At what age anal cancer mostly occur?
Ans : In most of the cases the final diagnosis happens at the age of 55 and above.
(Disclaimer: The information in this part of the article is for educational purposes only. All results must be clinically correlated with patient data in order to make an accurate diagnosis.)
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