- by Dr Murali Subramanian Oncology India
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- Jan 04 2018
Anal Cancer and its Risk Factors
The anus is part of the gastrointestinal tract and it is the opening at the end of the large intestine, below the rectum, where bowel movements leave the body. Anal cancer begins when healthy cells in or on the anus change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign.
Some of the abnormal cells go away without treatment, but others can become cancerous. This phase of the disease is called dysplasia, which is an abnormal growth of cells. Dysplasia in the anus is called Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN) OR Anal Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (SILs).
Types of anal cancer
The different types of anal cancer are:
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of anal cancer and it begins in the outer lining of the anal canal.
• Cloacogenic carcinoma is the type of cancer arises from the outer part of the anus and the lower part of the rectum.
• Adenocarcinoma arises from the glands that make mucous located under the anal lining.
• Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that appears in the perianal skin.
• Melanoma begins in cells that produce color found in the skin or anal lining.
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Infection with this virus is a risk factor for anal cancer. Sexual activity with someone who has HPV is the most common way someone gets HPV. There are vaccines available to protect you from some HPV strains.
• Age. Most people diagnosed with anal cancer are between age 50 and 80.
• Frequent anal irritation. Frequent anal redness, swelling, and soreness may increase the risk of developing anal cancer.
• Anal fistula. It is an abnormal tunnel between the anal canal and the outer skin of the anus. The tunnel often drains pus or liquid. An anal fistula may increase the risk of developing anal cancer.
• Cigarette smoking. Smokers are about 8 times more likely to develop anal cancer than non-smokers.
• Bleeding from the anal area
• Pain or pressure in the anal area
• Itching or discharge from the anus
• A lump or swelling near the anus
• A change in bowel habits or change in the diameter of the stool
The following tests may be used to diagnose anal cancer:
• Digital rectal examination (DRE). During this test, the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the anus to feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
• Anoscopy: It allows the doctor to see inside the body with a thin, lighted, flexible tube called an anoscope.
• Proctoscopy: Proctoscope is used to view the rectum. The person may be sedated as the tube is inserted into the anus and/or rectum.
• Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan.
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
• Positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
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