Anus is responsible for excreting out unwanted or waste materials from our body. There is a canal-like structure at the end of anus which helps stools to leave the body easily. Anal cancer is a serious disease that occurs when unusual and harmful tissues begin to grow inside anus region of an individual. Anal cancer can be effectively treated in its developmental stages. Advanced anal cancer becomes difficult to treat and considerably reduces the possibility of patient’s survival. Therefore, patients must reach out for prompt diagnosis and treatment if they observe any kind of abnormal changes in anal area.
Types of Anal Cancer
Anal cancer can be categorized depending upon the type of cells found in anal area. The following list describes the major types of cancer of anus.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – It is most commonly observed type of cancer of anus. This type of anal cancer develops when abnormal cells start to grow around outmost layer of anus.
- Cloacogenic Carcinoma – This type of cancer develops around outer lining of anus as well as around bottom layer of an individual’s rectum due to accumulation of harmful cells.
- Adenocarcinoma – There are several mucous forming glands present in lowermost area of anal canal. Adenocarcinoma occurs when cells in these glands become cancerous in nature.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma – Basal cell carcinoma comes in existence when basal cells present in perineal skin region beneath the anus become abnormal and start to harm healthy tissues.
- Melanoma – Melanoma cancer occurs when abnormal pigment-forming tissues start to form and multiply in patient’s anal region.
Causes and Risk Factors Associated with Anal Cancer
Anal cancer is mainly caused due to genetic mutation in cells and tissues found in anal region of an individual. Such genetic mutation tends to make healthy cells highly malignant or cancerous. These abnormal cells spread across the anus and result in cancer. Apart from that, the given risk factors may also contribute to development of cancer in anus.
- Older Age – In most cases, cancer of anus develops in individuals who are above the age of 50 years.
- Multiple Sexual Partners – People who have had multiple sexual partners especially the ones who perform anal sex are more prone to developing anal cancer in comparison with others.
- Medical History – Women who have a medical history of cancers such as cervical and vaginal cancer have greater chances of developing this disease.
- Smoking – People who smoke a lot have a higher likelihood of getting anal cancer.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – People suffering from sexually transmitted HPV infection may develop cancer of anus over a period.
- Immunosuppressive Drugs – People who consume immunosuppressive drugs even due to any medical reason may get anal cancer.
Major Signs and Symptoms of Anal Cancer
The following points elaborate some of the major warning signs of cancer of anus. These signs may become more prominent along with advancement of cancer.
- Rectal Bleeding – Abnormal bleeding from rectum area is the primary symptom of anal cancer. Patients must consult a well-experienced doctor for figuring out precise cause.
- Pain and Itching – Severe and persisting pain or itching around anal area could be a potential sign of cancer.
- Lumps – Anal cancer may result in small lumps around the anus. People experiencing such signs must seek medical assistance at the earliest.
- Mucus Discharge – An abnormal discharge of mucus from anal canal might be an indication of development of cancer.
- Bowel Incontinence – Loss of bowel control or condition of bowel incontinence is a clear sign of anal cancer. In such cases, patients must not delay in seeking an appropriate medical treatment.
Diagnosing Anal Cancer
Patients experiencing above-mentioned signs must contact a well-qualified oncologist in order to avail an accurate diagnosis of their health condition. During initial appointment, respective cancer specialists may ask patients to give out certain details such as symptoms that are bothering their anal region, their complete medical history, additional health issues, and the medicines that they intake for them. After that, they may advise the given tests for confirming the exact health problem.
- Physical Evaluation of Rectal Area – At first, doctors are likely to check patient’s rectal area. Patients are asked to stay in a comfortable position and then doctors carefully insert a gloved as well as lubricated finger in their rectum to feel any abnormal changes inside it.
- Sigmoidoscopy – Sigmoidoscopy is a medical procedure that involves insertion of a tool called as ‘sigmoidoscope’ inside patient’s anus to their colon. Sigmoidoscope has a small yet high-resolution camera at its end corner that can help doctors to clearly view and analyze the internal region. Patients are asked to lie comfortably while doctor performs this anus evaluation test.
- Proctoscopy – Proctoscopy is an advanced diagnostic intervention that allows doctor to evaluate patient’s anal area in order to determine whether any harmful cells are present. Patients are asked to lie down in a comfortable manner and doctors insert a thin tube-like tool called as ‘proctoscope’ in patient’s rectum area. It can significantly help in analyzing exact medical status of patients.
- Ultrasound of Anal Canal – Ultrasound of anal canal involves creating pictures of patient’s internal side of rectum as well as anus. Soundwave energy is used for serving the purpose. Doctors use a slightly thick probe and insert in patient’s anus or rectal area for taking reading and obtaining better diagnostic reports.
- Anus Biopsy Test – Anus biopsy is a simple procedure in which doctors take a sample of cells or tissues from anal region of patient’s body. This sample is sent to a clinical laboratory for further examination. This test can confirm the reason of abnormal changes and presence of cancer.
Stages of Anal Cancer
The following are the four main stages associated with cancer of anus. These stages basically indicate the spread of cancer in patient’s anal area.
- Stage 1 – This is the primary stage that develops due to abnormal cell growth in anal region. During this stage, cancer may spread two centimeters deep from outer lining of anus.
- Stage 2 – Second stage indicates that cancer has anal cancer has become slightly larger than two centimeters but has not spread beyond anal canal.
- Stage 3 – Third stage is comparatively an advanced anal cancer During this stage, cancerous cells in anus start to spread across lymph nodes, entire rectum region as well as other surrounding areas including vagina, pelvis, and bladder.
- Stage 4 – Fourth stage of anal cancer is the terminal stage where cancer cells spread to other distant body organs along with affecting anal canal.
Treatment Options for Anal Cancer
The given points elaborate some of the major treatment options for anal cancer. Doctors will determine best plan for patients depending on severity of disease. However, anal cancer treatment cost may differ with respect to degree of spread of cancer.
- Chemotherapy for Anal Cancer – Anal cancer chemotherapy is the primary treatment used for treating anal cancer. Chemotherapy procedure involves certain drugs called as ‘chemo’ drugs. These drugs are highly powerful in nature. They possess a capability of destroying trouble-causing anal cancer cells and tissues in a smooth manner. During anal cancer chemotherapy, respective doctors may ask patients to intake the chemo drugs in an oral manner or they may use an injection to give these medications. In most instances, anal cancer patients get complete relief just by chemotherapy treatment.
- Radiation Therapy for Anal Cancer – Anal cancer radiation therapy can be performed for primary as well as advanced stage of anal cancer. This procedure involves use of sharply-focused beam of radiation such as x-rays or protons in order to destroy the cancerous tissues in anus as well as other affected organs of patient’s body. Patients are exposed to medical instruments that emit these radiations for some time. Anal cancer radiation therapy can be performed several times for getting suitable results. Respective oncologists may perform chemotherapy along with radiation therapy for helping patients recover faster and stay cancer-free. Such procedure that involves radiation as well as chemotherapy simultaneously is termed as ‘chemoradiation therapy’.
- Surgery for Anal Cancer – Anal cancer surgery is mainly performed for removing small cancerous tumors in patient’s anal region. Sometimes, it may also be used in advanced stages. Surgical procedure is carried out under general anesthesia so that patients do not feel any discomfort during the operation. If tumors are small in nature, doctors carefully make an incision around specific area and take out the abnormal cancerous cells. In severe cases, where other line of treatments haven’t proven beneficial, doctors may perform an operation known as ‘abdominoperineal resection’ (AP resection). During AP resection, respective oncologists make incision and remove the whole anal canal and rectum, and also a particular cancerous region of colon. The left out region of colon is then surgically connected to abdominal area known as ‘stoma’. It helps patients in excretion of waste material from their body. Doctors may combine surgery with either radiation therapy or chemotherapy for providing better results.
Risks and Complications Associated with Anal Cancer Treatment
The following are the major risks and complications associated with different treatments for anal cancer.
- Surgery for Anal Cancer – Infection at incision site, clotting of blood, severe pain, bleeding and delay in wound healing are the major complications associated with anal cancer surgery.
- Chemotherapy for Anal Cancer – Development of mouth sores, nausea, vomiting sensation, hair loss, nerve damage, and diarrhea may occur after completion of anal cancer chemotherapy.
- Radiation Therapy for Anal Cancer – Extreme tiredness or fatigue, anal irritation, swelling and pain in anal area, and considerable skin changes are the main complications associated with anal cancer radiation therapy.
Recovery Following Treatment of Anal Cancer
Recovery following anal cancer treatment completely relies on extent of anal cancer, type of treatment used, and general health problems of patients. Doctors may advise patients to consume a special diet plan and certain medicines that can help minimize the probability of recurrence of anal cancer. Patients will need to visit respective hospitals at regular intervals of time for follow-up care. It will ensure their good health and prevent them from further complications. Respective oncologists may refer patients to clinical psychologists for building up their mental strength and helping them stay calm throughout their recovery.
Avail Best Treatments for Anal Cancer in India with IndianMedTrip
IndianMedTrip is a renowned healthcare consulting firm in India that caters a large number of cancer treatments such as anal cancer treatments. Anal cancer treatment cost in India is very feasible. Whereas, anal cancer treatment cost in Western countries is beyond reach of common man. To be honest, anal cancer treatment cost in India is just a fraction of total sum which other developed countries charge usually. Medical consultants at IndianMedTrip has great association with all leading accredited multi-specialty hospitals and highly skilled oncologists in India. These oncologists are adept in performing complicated cases and giving success outcomes for anal cancer treatment in India. IndianMedTrip offers free online consultation to overseas patients and outlines a high-quality anal cancer treatment for them. In addition to this, IndianMedTrip assists international patients in obtaining their medical visas and stays in touch with each of them throughout their anal cancer treatment as well as during their postoperative period even when they fly back to their native places. If you are someone seeking treatment for anal cancer in India, you will need to go to the rightmost corner of this page and fill up a simple form over there. You may also try free call-back facility offered by IndianMedTrip. Medical consultants at IndianMedTrip will positively call you within 48 hours and assist you in availing best treatments for anal cancer in India.