Cancer » Anal Cancer
The anus is an opening at the end of the large intestine, below the rectum, through which stool leaves the body. The anus is formed partly from the intestine. Anus consists sphincter muscles, these are two ring-like muscles that open and close the anal to let the stool pass out of the body. There is about 1½ inches long anal canal in the anus which lies between the rectum and the anal opening. The anal canal is surrounded by the sphincter muscle which controls bowel movements by contracting and relaxing.
In anal cancer the malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the anus. The skin around the outside of the anus is called the perianal area. Tumors in this area are skin tumors. A tumor of the anus can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). It's are unusual tumors arising from the skin or mucosa. If a lump is created by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the anus, then also anal cancer is formed. There are three ways through which it can spread in the body, they are:
- Through tissue
- Through the lymph system
- Through the blood cells
Anal Cancer Types
We know that the anus is made up of different types of cells, and each type can become cancerous. Thus, the anal cancer is of different types based on the type of cell where the cancer began.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of anal cancer, which begins in the outer lining of the anal canal
- Benign anal cancers are very rare type of it, lump which is mostly found in polyps. There are different type of polyps depending on their location and their cause
- Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can found in the perianal skin
- Anal warts (condylomas)
- Precancerous lesion type anal cancer. These lesions are also called as Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN)
Anal Cancer Causes
The risk factors are :
- Age factor (over 50 years old)
- Anal swelling
- Redness or soreness that occurs frequently on anal
- Immune suppression
- Being infected with human papillomavirus
- Having many sexual partners or receptive anal sex
What Are the Symptoms of Anal Cancer?
The basic symptoms are:
- Lumps or pain in the anus
- Change in bowel movements, such as constipation, loose motions
- Jelly like discharge from the anus
- Anal itching and bloating
- Vaginal dryness
How is Anal Cancer Diagnosed?
Tests and procedures to diagnose anal cancer are given below:
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) - In this examination the doctor inserts the gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the abnormalities
- Visual inspection- In this procedure the doctor uses a short, lighted tube (anoscope) to inspect your anal canal and rectum for any unusual change. This test is also called anoscopy
- Proctoscopy- In this type of examination the doctor uses a proctoscope (a short-lighted tube) to determine any lump or change in the anus
- Endo-anal ultrasound- This type of ultrasound uses high-energy sound waves to show the internal pictures of the body
- Biopsy- If from above mentioned examinations, any abnormality is found in the anus, then the doctor can remove small sample of the tissue and examine it to see whether the cancer is present or not
- Rectal biopsy- This test involves removing a small amount of tissue from the rectum for examination
How is Anal Cancer Treated?
As with any cancer the treatment is depend upon the type, size, and a particular area where it is spread.
Surgery: Surgery is the first line treatment for the small anal cancers. Surgery can individually involves two different types:
Local resection- In this type of surgical procedure the tumor is cut from the anus along with some of the healthy tissues around it. This type of resection is only used when the tumor is small and has not spread. In this procedure the sphincter muscles are saved, so the patients can still control their bowel movements. Tumors that develop in the lower part of the anus can often be removed with local resection.
Abdominoperineal resection- In this type of surgical procedure the anus, the rectum, and part of the sigmoid colon are removed. Lymph nodes that contain cancer may also be removed during this operation.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill the cancer cells. This therapy is of two types.
External radiation therapy - This therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation towards the cancer cells.
Internal radiation therapy - This therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly on the cancer.
Chemotherapy: This therapy uses drugs to destroy and stop the growth of cancer cells. The therapy kills the cell sand stops the cells from dividing. This therapy is called systematic therapy because in this the drugs are given by mouth or injected into the vein to enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells through out the body. The chemotherapy is also called regional chemotherapy only when the drugs are placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen. This tumor is well treated with combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery is often reserved for advanced cancers or anal cancers that have not respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
A combination of radiation and chemotherapy is given to patients suffering from Anus cancer. This is meant to be better than the surgery as it increases the life span of the patient.