Often diagnosed as a case of hemorrhoids, anal cancer is a rare type of cancer, but not a less dangerous one! Its symptoms, which are difficult to evoke because they are a little embarrassing, make early diagnosis difficult. Zoom on the visible symptoms of anal cancer, its causes and the methods of its diagnosis.
Anal cancer is a cancer that develops in the anal canal. It should not be confused with rectal cancer that affects the inner walls of the rectum and has the same characteristics as colon cancer. We can distinguish between different forms of anal cancer, but the most common is squamous cell carcinoma.
However, anal cancer remains one of the rarest types of cancer, accounting for only about 3% of all malignant tumors in the anus or rectum. Although there is an increase in cases diagnosed with this type of cancer in recent years.
People at risk and causes of anal cancer:
Anal cancer usually occurs in adults over the age of 60 and affects women 3 times more than men. Its causes remain, to date, imprecise, but the scientists evoke many factors which can be at the origin of the appearance of this type of cancer namely:
- A weakened immune system
- Regular irritation of the anus
In addition, squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of anal cancer, is mainly caused by infection with papillomavirus (which is also responsible for the development of cervical cancer). can be transmitted by direct contact with the skin or mucous membranes, especially during sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of anal cancer:
If the symptoms of other types of cancer can go unnoticed, until advanced stages, the signs of cancer of the anus are quite marked and are manifested by:
- Pain during defecation
- Itching at the anus
- Anal bleeding
- The appearance of a lump or a hard mass near the anus
- Transit troubles
- Unusual discharge from the anus
It is very important not to neglect these alarming signs and especially not to be embarrassed to talk to your family or doctor.
Diagnosis of anal cancer in its first phase:
Early detection of all types of cancer, including anal cancer, is a critical step in increasing the chances of recovery. Diagnostic methods for anal cancer include the digital rectal exam, during which the doctor examines the anal cavity, using only his fingers, to check for bumps or any abnormalities in this area.
If abnormalities are detected, the patient must make an anoscopy so that the doctor can observe the inside of the anal canal. This method of diagnosis is done by inserting an anoscope, a kind of tube or speculum, into the anus.
Other tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of cancer and determine its nature, among which, biopsy, CT scan or MRI.
Evolution and treatment of anal cancer:
When anal cancer is detected at an early stage, the chances of recovery are much greater. Indeed, metastases are quite rare, as are recurrences after treatment.
To treat anal cancer, patients use chemotherapy and radiation therapy. 70% of cases recover from these surgical procedures.