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anal cancer

What is Anal Cancer?

Dr. Parveen Yadav
04 Oct 2018
 4.51 Vote(s)
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Anal Cancer is a cancer type, which affects the anus or anal canal in a human body. Older individuals are at greater risk of anal cancer. The prognosis of anal cancer is good when diagnosed at an early stage. In this blog, you will find more about causes, risk factors, signs, symptoms, types, prognosis and diagnostics for Anal Cancer.

Anal Cancer is the type of cancer, which occurs in the anus or anal canal in the human body. One needs to know that women are more affected with anal cancer as compared to men. Anus is a part of the human body present at the end of gastrointestinal tract. In this article, you will find details about causes, risk factors, signs, symptoms, prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of the anal cancer.

Causes and risk factors of Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is associated with different factors, which need to be monitored from time to time for successful treatment of the patient. Here are some of the risk factors, which lead to increased chances of anal cancer.

1. Elderly individuals: When an individual, crosses the age of 50 or more, then they are tend to have increased chances of being diagnosed with anal cancer.

2. Smoking: Yes! You will be surprised to know this but anal cancer is also caused men and women due to the increased smoking habits, which is hazardous to the health.

3. Human Papilloma virus (HPV): Anal Cancer and Human Papilloma virus are closely related to each other. HPV infection is spread with skin-to-skin contact and affects various important parts of the body and leads to anal cancer.

4. Anal Sex: Individuals who regularly have anal sex are exposed to attracting anal sex than others who do not perform this type of sex. 

5. Weak immune system: Patients who have a weak immune system and have evidence of AIDS and HIV are at a greater risk of suffering from anal cancer. 

Signs and Symptoms of Anal Cancer:

There are different signs and symptoms of anal cancer, which need to keep in mind when the patient has doubt regarding the presence of anal cancer.

  • Regular pain in the anal canal is quite common in the patients who are at high chance of anal cancer.
  • Release of unusual discharge from the anus, which is similar to the jelly-like texture.
  • Presence of itching and discomfort in the anus.
  • In women, vaginal dryness is quite common along with bowel movement problems and sudden increased bloating. 
  • Growth of lumps can be seen both in men and women and this is a common symptom in patients with anal cancer.

Types of Anal Cancer

Anal Cancer may be classified into following five types based on the cell type present in the anal area.

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is one of the most common types of anal cancer. It stands for 90% of the anal cancers, which occur in men and women. The two main types of squamous cell carcinoma include keratinizing tumors and non-keratinizing tumors.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of cancer occur in the mucus producing glandular cells. This type of adenocarcinoma occur rarely in the body.
  • Small Cell Carcinoma: Small Cell Carcinoma is rarely occurring type of anal cancer. 
  • Melanoma: This is a type of skin cancer which occurs affects the melanocytes present in the cells.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is a type of skin cancer, which usually occurs in the skin surrounding the anal of the patient. The treatment of the same is performed in the same way as that of the skin cancer.


The 5-year prognosis of Anal Cancer is mentioned as follows. The survival rates of the patient with squamous cancer is much more than non-squamous cancers. Here are the percentages of squamous and non-squamous cell carcinoma respectively.

  • Stage 1: 77% and 71%
  • Stage 2: 67% and 59%
  • Stage 3A: 58% and 50%
  • Stage 3B: 51% and 35%
  • Stage 4: 15% and 7%

Diagnosis of Anal Cancer

The diagnosis of anal cancer is performed with the help of the following examinations and tests:

1. Examining of the anal canal and rectum: Here a digital rectal examination is performed in the patient under the expertise of a medical specialist. With this type of examination, unusual growths are seen in the patient.

2. Ultrasound: Ultrasound is performed with the help of a probe, which is inserted in the anal canal and rectum. The ultrasound waves, which are high-sound energy waves are passed through the tissues and organs, which are targeted inside the body.

3. Laboratory testing for sample tissue: Here the biopsy procedure of the sample tissue taken from the anal of the patient is tested for the presence of the cancer in the anal.

4. Anoscope: Anoscope is a tube-like structure which is inserted into the anal and rectum to view the structures here. This procedure is known as Anoscopy. On the Anoscope, a lubricant is applied for proper view of these structures. The light, which comes of the tube, helps the doctor to view the targeted organs properly without creating any kind of confusion in the diagnosis.

5. Biopsy: Biopsy is very useful in the successful diagnosis of the anal cancer especially in the later stages of the same. One of the most commonly utilized biopsy procedures includes Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA). FNA test is very useful to check the lymph nodes, which are present in the respective area.

Treatment of anal cancer:

The treatment of the anal cancer varies with the respective stage of anal cancer and the success rates of the same also varies with the severity of the cancer in the patient. Most of the cancer specialists utilize both chemotherapy and radiation therapy for curing the patient who is diagnosed with anal cancer.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is one of the most commonly advised and utilized treatments for effectively treating anal cancer. The drugs, which are usually injected in the intravenous form reach the cancer, affected cells. Proper care is taken on behalf of the doctors who are treating the particular case of anal cancer. While treating the cancer patient with chemotherapy, patients keep in mind regarding the side effects and accordingly provide the doses of the drugs to the patients.
  • Radiation Therapy: In case of the radiation therapy, the radiologist and oncologist use X-rays and Protons to treat the patients and kill the cancer cells affected with the anal cancer. The negative effects of the radiations on the healthy cells are reduced on the surrounding cells in the modern times. This reduces the impact of the radiations on the patient’s healthy cells.
  • Surgery: In some of the patients, the anal cancer in there early as well as later stages is treated effectively with the aid of surgeries. Sometimes, surgeries are performed along with the chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In some of the cases, surgery is performed when the chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not successful in severe cases. Doctors usually recommend a combination of the treatments to make anal cancer treatment a successful one.
  • Palliative Care: Palliative Care is basically the supportive care which patients must receive during any of the above mentioned cancer treatments. The specialists in palliative care make sure that the patients are counseled well and kept motivated during their cancer treatments. This helps the patients yield the best results from the cancer treatment. Such care proves to be useful for the patients who are trying hard to get a permanent cure of their anal cancer.

Thus, these are the crucial aspects of the anal cancer, which need to be focused on when considering the chance of presence of anal cancer. Patients need to be aware enough to understand these aspects of anal cancer to use it at the right time when required. For a free Cancer consultation reaches out to Ela at +918929020600.

Dr. Parveen Yadav

About the Author

Surgical Oncologist
Dr. Parveen Yadav is a Surgical Oncologist practicing at Paras Hospitals located in Sushant Lok Phase 1, Sector 43, Gurgaon. He has nearly a decade of experience in the field of oncology treatments. Dr. Parveen has completed his MBBS and further pursued MS in General Surgery from Pt BD Sharma Medical College, Rohtak. He has pursued his 3 years surgical oncology training from the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital (IRCH), AIIMS in New Delhi. He has done his 2 years of Fellowship in Thoracic Oncology from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. He is also associated with various institutions such as Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. Dr. Parveen Yadav is also trained in Robotic and Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Parveen specializes in Lung Surgery, Minimally Invasive (Key role) Esophageal, Intervention Bronchoscopy (Stenting), and Mediastinoscopy procedures. He also offers treatment of Mediastinal, Airway disease (Benign and Malignant) and Soft Tissue Sarcoma. He is a member of Indian Association for Palliative Care and Association of Indian Surgeons. Dr. Parveen has also acheived a Fellowship in the Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endo-surgeons. He was also awarded the Best Paper Indian Cancer Congress in the year 2011. Dr. Parveen is currently practicing as a surgical oncologist at Paras Hospitals in Gurgaon. Book a FREE appointment with Dr. Parveen Yadav at Elacancer.com.
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    1 Comment

    Vishal Dasgupta
    Oct. 4, 2018, 1:11 p.m.
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