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What exactly is Anal Cancer?

Anal cancer occurs when cancer cells form benign or malignant tumours in the tissues of the anus.

The anus is a hole at the bottom of your intestines through which stool exits the body. Anal cancer is uncommon, but when it does occur, it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Some noncancerous forms of anal cancer can progress to cancerous status over time. If you have any of the following:

Anal cancer types

Anal cancer is classified into several types based on the type of tumour that develops. A tumour is a type of cancerous growth in the body. Tumors are classified as benign or malignant. If left untreated, malignant tumours can spread to other parts of the body. Tumors include the following:

Tumors that are benign Noncancerous tumours are benign tumours. Polyps, skin tags, granular cell tumours, and genital warts are examples of anus (condylomas).

Conditions that are precancerous This term refers to benign tumours that can develop into malignant tumours over time, as is common in anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) and anal squamous intraepithelial neoplasia (ASIEN) (ASIL).

Cancer of the squamous cells These anus malignant tumours are caused by abnormal squamous cells (cells that line most of the anal canal).

Bowen's disease This condition, also known as squamous cell carcinoma in situ, is distinguished by abnormal cells on the anal surface that have not invaded deeper layers.

Cancer of the basal cell Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that commonly affects sun-exposed skin. As a result, it is a very rare form of anal cancer.

Adenocarcinoma This is a rare type of cancer that develops from the glands that surround the anus.

What factors contribute to anal cancer?

The development of abnormal cells in the body causes anal cancer. These abnormal cells can proliferate uncontrollably and form masses known as tumours. Cancer cells in advanced stages can metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body, interfering with normal functions.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) a sexually transmitted infection, is thought to play a role in the development of anal cancer. It is found in the majority of cases of anal cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of Anal Cancer?

Anal cancer symptoms can be confused with haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a variety of other gastrointestinal disorders. These are some examples:

  • alterations in bowel habits
  • thin stools rectum bleeding pain,
  • pressure, or formation of a lump near the anus discharge from the anus or itching

What are some of the risk factors for anal cancer?

Anal cancer can affect anyone, but some people are more likely to develop it than others. The following are risk factors:

Infection with HPV

HPV is a group of viruses that are transmitted through sexual contact and remain in the body after infection. HPV is found in the majority of cases of anal cancer. Prior to the introduction of routine Pap smears, it was also the leading cause of cervical cancer.

HIV

Because HIV weakens your immune system, you are more likely to develop anal cancer.

Sexual behaviour

Having multiple sex partners and receptive anal sex can raise your risk of anal cancer. Wearing barrier protection, such as condoms, increases the risk of anal cancer due to an increased risk of HPV infection.

Smokers

Smokers are more likely to develop anus cancer, even if they quit smoking.

A compromised immune system

A compromised immune system can render your body defenceless in the face of anal cancer. It is most common in people who have HIV, take immunosuppressants, or have had an organ transplant.

Advancing years

The majority of cases of anal cancer occur in people over the age of 50.

How is anal cancer identified?

Rectal bleeding is a common symptom of anal cancer. People who experience anus bleeding, itching, or pain frequently seek medical attention before anal cancer progresses beyond stage one. Anal cancer is sometimes discovered during routine exams or procedures.

Some cases of anal carcinoma can be detected using digital rectal exams. These are typically performed as part of a man's prostate exam. Manual rectal exams, in which the doctor inserts a finger into the anus to feel for lumps or growths, are common in both gender pelvic exams.

What is the treatment for anal cancer?

Although there is no cure for anal cancer, many people who are diagnosed with it live healthy and fulfilling lives. Depending on your age and the stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments, either alone or in combination:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be used to kill cancer cells while also preventing their growth. It can either be injected or taken orally. Intermittent use of pain relievers may also be necessary to control symptoms.

Surgery

Local resection surgery is frequently used to remove an anus tumour as well as some healthy tissue around it. This procedure is most commonly used on patients whose cancer is located in the lower part of the anus and has not spread to too many nearby structures. It works best for cancers in their early stages and for small tumours.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat many types of cancer, including anus cancer. X-rays and other forms of radiation are used to kill cancer cells in the body, but they may also kill healthy tissue nearby. This non-invasive treatment is usually combined with other cancer treatments.

What is the prognosis for anal cancer?

Many people can live long and healthy lives after being diagnosed with cancer. The key to long-term health is early detection.

Based on data collected from 2007 to 2013, the overall five-year survival rate for people with anal cancer is 66.9 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Furthermore, people with localized anal cancer have an 81.3 percent chance of survival.

Anal cancer prevention

There is no sure way to prevent anal cancer, but there are some things you can do to lower your chances:

Sex should be done safely.

Limiting the number of sexual partners you have, using condoms during sex, avoiding receptive anal sex, and getting tested for sexually transmitted infections on a regular basis are all ways to practice safe sex.

Quit smoking.

Stop smoking and try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. If you need assistance, here are some smoking cessation tips.

Obtain a vaccination

A three-dose series HPV vaccination is approved for both males and females aged 9 to 26. This vaccine will protect people from certain HPV types that are known to cause anal cancer.

If you have a high risk of anal cancer due to other factors such as family history or age, talk to your doctor about your concerns.