Anal cancer is a somewhat uncommon condition that consists of cancer forming in the anus, the last inch-and-a-half at the end of the intestines. The condition begins with noncancerous cells on the surface that can later become cancerous.
A majority of anal cancer occurs in people over the age of 60.
Risk factors for anal cancer include:
- A human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the anus
- Receiving anal sex
- Being African-American
Symptoms of anal cancer include:
- Anal itching
- Anal bleeding
- Discharge from the anus
- Pain, pressure or swelling in the area
Physicians test for anal cancer by doing a digital exam, swabbing the cells of the anus or performing other procedures like an ultrasound. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be performed to examine the cells.
There are three types of treatment used for anal cancer:
Radiation and chemotherapy are used to destroy or control the growth of the tumors. These are the two most commonly used in combination to treat the condition.
Surgery is typically used only when the other two are not effective. It consists of removing the cancer and surrounding tissue. In advanced cases, the anus, rectum and the lower part of the colon are removed and a bag is placed outside of the body to collect waste.
For more information on anal cancer, see the American Cancer Society.