Anal cancer is cancer around the anal opening of within the anal canal. Cells that are just becoming malignant but haven’t invaded below the surface are call pre-cancerous (carcinoma in-situ) or Bowen’s disease. Most anal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
Symptoms of anal cancer include:
Anal cancer accounts for only one to two percent of gastrointestinal cancer. Rates, however, are rapidly increasing. People with other risk factors for anal cancer include individuals:
Small cancers found early can be treated with excision. For larger, more advanced cancers, chemotherapy and radiation may be used.
For early cancers, or cancers that respond to chemotherapy and radiation, a colostomy is usually not needed. For more advanced or recurrent cancer, a permanent colostomy may be needed due to removal of the entire anal area.
Early detection is important in the treatment of anal cancers. A rectal exam and a routine anoscopy (a physical exam which uses a lubricated, lighted instrument to aid in the visualization of the entire anal canal), can assist in early detection.
Anal pap smears may also be used to detect abnormal cell in the anal canal. Another technique, called HRA or high resolution anoscopy, can also assist doctors in better viewing of the entire anal canal and anal area. Biopsy may accompany any of these exams for an accurate diagnosis.