As we all know, cancer is a disease that is becoming more and more common in modern people and this is the reason why mainstream media and the healthcare community in the last 20 years are paying special attention to this disease.
There are different types of cancer and most of them are known for the aggressive symptoms and high fatality rates. But, it looks like there is one specific type of cancer that has been ignored by everyone for a long time due to the fact that this cancer occurs in an embarrassing location of the body. Obviously, this article will be dedicated to anal cancer.
What Exactly is Anal Cancer?
This is one of the rarest types of cancer that begins at the rectal opening also known as anus.
Unfortunately, this topic is often avoided because of the location where this cancer occurs and because people have prejudices and believe that anal cancer occurs only in cases of poor hygiene and frequent practicing of anal intercourse.
This makes individuals who may notice certain anal cancer symptoms to ignore the problem. They don’t want to talk to other people about this and they even skip visits to the doctor’s office. It is good to mention that anal cancer is not the same as colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer has impact on both the rectum and the large intestine. On the other hand, anal cancer is localized just on the rectal opening.
Every year, more than 8000 Americans find out that they have anal cancer and about 12 percent of them will probably die from this disease. About 25% of individuals that have found out that they have anal cancer realize this when the cancer has already affected the lymph nodes and about 10% of all the individuals suffering from anal cancer found out about their problem when the disease affected other surrounding organs.
Even though, this cancer is not common as rectal, colon or colorectal cancer, the statistics shows that the number of individuals with this cancer is growing each year and one of the main reasons for that is the fact that they are not eliminating the symptoms when they occur.
Anal Cancer Symptoms
Even though identifying the presence of anal cancer when it is still forming is crucial, it turns out that it is quite difficult to do this because many anal cancer symptoms don’t occur until it reaches advanced stages. But, with every progress it makes, people have a chance to identify new symptoms. This is a list of some of the most common anal cancer symptoms:
- Frequent itching in this area
- Tenderness or pain in the anus
- Frequent anal bleeding
- A hardened area or lump close the rectal opening
- Odd anal discharge
- Improper bowel movements.
In the majority of cases, the direct cause of this disease remains unidentified. But, there are certain things that can increase the chances of developing anal cancer. Some of these factors are frequent cigarette smoking, recurrent anal irritation and damaged immune system.
The individuals who belong to the category of people with high risk of developing anal cancer are people who have reached 60 years because 8 out of 10 anal cancer patients are people who belong to this age group.
There are many men under the age of 35 who have witnessed the occurrence of this disease, but when it comes to individuals over 50, women are at higher risk.
In case you belong to the demographic that is at higher risk, check the symptoms and analyze the factors that contribute to the emergence of anal cancer. You can also perform anal cancer examination.
Early Detection of Anal Cancer
Anal cancer detection in the early stages will significantly increase your chances to heal this disease. There is more than one efficient technique to identify the presence of anal cancer, starting from X-ray examination to some very invasive techniques. These are some of the frequently used techniques that have proven to be effective:
Anoscopy is a procedure in which a tiny, tubular instrument known as anoscope is placed inside the anus so the physician can get more precise look about the things that are going on inside. Anoscopy is performed when the doctor has noticed something that is unusual after a digital rectal examination.
Digital Rectal Examination
On the other hand, digital rectal examination is a type of examination in which the doctor uses lubricated gloves and his fingers to touch and check the anal cavity in order to find some hardened areas, lumps or other unusual structures.
In addition, doctors can also use ultrasound, biopsy, CT scans, X-rays, PET scans and MRI scans to determine the presence or absence of anal cancer in the body. But, we must mention that these techniques are linked to many controversies because there are some studies that suggest that they can actually accelerate the progress or even cause cancer. Even though these techniques may be essential for detection of anal cancer, it is the best idea to perform rectal examinations each year although these examinations are not very comfortable.