Anal Canal Cancer

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Anal Canal Cancer

Anal cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that occurs in the anal canal. The anal canal is a short tube at the end of your rectum through which stool leaves your body.
Anal cancer can cause signs and symptoms such as rectal bleeding and anal pain.
Most people with anal cancer are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. Though combining anal cancer treatments increases the chance of a cure, the combined treatments also increase the risk of side effects.

What Are the Symptoms of Anal Canal Cancer?

  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum
  • Pain in the area of the anus
  • A mass or growth in the anal canal
Anal itching

Causes

Anal cancer forms when a genetic mutation turns normal, healthy cells into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. Abnormal cells grow and multiply out of control, and they don't die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can separate from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).
Anal cancer is closely related to a sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). Evidence of HPV is detected in the majority of anal cancers. HPV is thought to be the most common cause of anal cancers.

Treatment

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Surgery to remove early-stage anal cancers.
  • Surgery for late-stage anal cancers or anal cancers that haven’t responded to other treatments.

Diagnosis

  • Examining your anal canal and rectum for abnormalities.During a digital rectal exam, your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum. He or she feels for anything unusual, such as growths.
  • Visually inspecting your anal canal and rectum.Your doctor may use a short, lighted tube (anoscope) to inspect your anal canal and rectum for anything unusual.
  • Taking sound wave pictures (ultrasound) of your anal canal.To create a picture of your anal canal, your doctor inserts a probe, similar to a thick thermometer, into your anal canal and rectum. The probe emits high-energy sound waves, called ultrasound waves, which bounce off tissues and organs in your body to create a picture. Your doctor evaluates the picture to look for anything abnormal.
  • Removing a sample of tissue for laboratory testing.If your doctor discovers any unusual areas, he or she may take small samples of affected tissue (biopsy) and send the samples to a laboratory for analysis. By looking at the cells under a microscope, doctors can determine whether the cells are cancerous.

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