There are several different types of cancer that can affect the human body, anal cancer being one of them. Anal cancer can be described as a rather uncommon form of cancer, which occurs when there is a tumor in the anal canal. This anal canal is like the short tube situated at the end of the rectum. Stool that is eliminated from the body, leaves through the anal canal.
Anal cancer is usually characterized by signs and symptoms like pain in the anal area as well as rectal bleeding. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that they are suffering from this medical condition, because the symptoms are quite similar to those experienced during hemorrhoids. As a result, most people do not consult their doctors immediately, due to which the condition goes undiagnosed for a long time.
Though anyone can develop anal cancer, it is more common in those who are over the age of 50. The risks of this condition are also higher in those men and women who have had multiple sexual partners during their lives, or those who engage in anal sex frequently. Other unhealthy lifestyle practices like cigarette smoking or taking certain drugs could also trigger off the formation of tumors in the anal area.
It is possible to treat anal cancer, if the condition is detected in the initial stages. People suffering from anal cancer may need to try out a combination of treatment options, like surgery, medication, radiation and chemotherapy. In some instances, primary anal tumors can spread to other parts of the body. Anal cancer can metastasize to the organs such as the lungs and the liver. Though it is rare for malignant anal tumors to spread, the ones that do are quite difficult to treat. Anal cancer is as serious as any other form of cancer and therefore, it should be treated by a doctor, without any delay.
Diagnosing anal cancer may be a bit of a challenge, mainly because its symptoms are not specific to the condition. After noticing the various symptoms of anal cancer, you should at the very outset consult your family doctor or a general practitioner. Your doctor may first carry out a physical exam and check your medical history. After ruling out the possibility of hemorrhoids, you may be advised to consult a gastroenterologist (digestive disease specialist) or an oncologist (a cancer specialist). As soon as it suspected that a patient may be suffering from anal cancer, he or she may be advised to undergo certain tests. Given below are some of the most commonly recommended anal cancer tests:
Some of the other imaging tests that may be recommended for cancer include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and pelvic X rays.
Cancer tests not only confirm if a person is suffering from the condition or not, but can also help the doctor establish the stage in which the cancer is.
You could develop anal cancer when a genetic mutation transforms the normal and healthy cells in your body, into abnormal cells. These abnormal cells grow, multiply and divide at a rapid pace. Over a period of time, these mutated cells take up the space and nutrients from the healthy cells too, destroying them in the process. Gradually, the unhealthy cells amass together to form a tumor, which is cancerous. If not treated, the cancer cells spread to the nearby tissues, causing the infection to grow.
One of the main anal cancer causes is a sexually transmitted infection triggered by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Studies indicate that the presence of HPV can be detected in a majority of the anal cancer cases.
There are several different factors that could cause a person to develop this condition. Given below are some of the other possible causes of anal cancer:
It is important to realize that doctors may not be able to determine the exact causes of anal cancer in most cases.
In case you develop anal cancer, there are several different signs and symptoms that you are likely to experience. Unfortunately, most of the common anal cancer symptoms are not specific, which is why you may not suspect that you are suffering from a serious problem like a tumor or cancer. Given below are some of the most commonly seen symptoms of anal cancer:
After noticing these signs and symptoms, in case you happened to assume that you are suffering from fissures or hemorrhoids (piles), rest assured that you are not alone. This is a very common mistake made by most people. People, who happen to notice spots or streaks of blood on the tissue paper or in the toilet bowl after passing stool, automatically believe that they have developed piles, due to constipation. To alleviate the symptoms several people start including a higher amount of fiber in their diets. In case of piles, these symptoms get better after incorporating healthy dietary and lifestyle changes. However, in case the signs and symptoms are caused by anal cancer, they will probably not get better, in spite of following a healthier diet or lifestyle.
It is important for you to detect the condition in the early stages, so that it can be treated as soon as possible. Therefore, in case you happen to experience rectal bleeding, itchiness, pain or any other discomfort in the area, it is best for you to get it checked by a doctor, without any delay.
Unfortunately, there are many severe side effects that can be experienced because of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This could be why people ask their doctors if they could opt for complementary and alternative therapies instead. However, alternative forms of treatment cannot cure cancer, though they can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Some of the complementary and alternative therapies recommended for dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment include: