Anal cancer

It is really worth watching the documentary which was aired on a National broadcasting channel and was a hit by nine million viewers. It was nominated for Emmy award too. What is this documentary all about? It is “Farrah’s Story”. Who is she? She is an American actress, who has received six Golden global awards. The documentary involves the real-life footage of Farrah’s treatment, surgery, and recovery for ANAL CANCER. Her documentary was a message to the public, which makes the people realize the importance of early detection of cancers and prevention strategies.

Nearly half of the anal cancers are diagnosed after it has spread to the primary sites. And 10% of the cases are diagnosed after cancer has spread to the remote organs. So it is important to get screening for cancers and follow the preventive measures for cancers.

About Anal Cancer

The anus is the part of gastrointestinal tract; it is located below the rectum, from where the bowel movements leave the body. If there is any unhealthy or abnormal growth of cells near the anus, a tumor is formed.

A tumor can be cancerous or benign (non-cancerous). A cancerous tumor can be malignant, which means it can spread to the other parts of the body. There are different types of anal cancers, which are based on the cells from where the cancer originated.

Anal Cancer Symptoms

You would experience the following symptoms of anal cancer. But these symptoms are not always proved to be the signs of anal cancer although. There can also be the symptoms of other underlying conditions.

  • Severe bloating
  • Discharge from anus
  • A lump in the anus
  • Change in the bowel habits
  • Bleeding from the anal region
  • Itching sensation near the anal region

Prevention of Anal Cancer

Here are some recommendations that can reduce your risk of being a victim of anal cancer:

  • You must quit smoking
  • You must use condoms when having sex
  • You must refrain from participating in anal intercourse
  • You must reduce the chances of being infected with HPV (Human papillomavirus) by taking vaccination

Causes and risk factors

It is difficult for the experts to determine the exact cause of anal cancer. The following could be the possible risk factors associated with anal cancer:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV is the most common cause of anal cancer. Nearly 80% of the patients who are affected with anal cancer have HPV infection.
  • Age – Age group between 50 and 80 are mostly diagnosed with anal cancer.
  • Anal fistula – There is an increased risk of anal cancer in the people with an anal fistula.
  • Smoking – Smokers are more prone to anal cancers compared to non-smokers.
  • Compromised immunity – People with disease or conditions that affect the immune system are more likely to develop anal cancer.

Considering your medical history, your doctor would carry out the following tests:

  • A rectal examination: A rectal examination may be uncomfortable and is not painful. To examine your anal area in a more detailed fashion, your doctor would use a sigmoidoscope (a flexible tube insterted into the anus to examine sigmoid colon). This examination will let your doctor understand if further tests such as biopsy are needed or not.
  • Biopsy: For a biopsy, a small tissue from the affected region is removed and sent for biopsy testing. If the cancer is detected then you will be ordered for further tests to find out the stage of cancer and to understand how far the cancer is being spread.

Further tests include:

  • Ultrasound scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography (CT scan)
Surgical intervention

The type of surgery your doctor would choose for you depends on the size and position of the tumor.


Resection is performed to remove any small tumor and some surrounding tissue. After the resection, there will not be any effect on your ability to pass your stools.

Abdominoperineal resection 

In this type of reception your anus, rectum and a portion of bowel are surgically removed. After the reception, you will need a colostomy (collection of stools outside the body, through an opening from the bowel). But you can lead a normal life even with colostomies.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy 

Radiotherapy uses high rays to destroy the cancerous cells. The side effects of radiotherapy, there are also some associated side effects with radiotherapy, which includes, diarrhea, constipation, low WBC, loss of appetite, constipation, mouth ulcers, sore mouth, etc. Chemotherapy uses cell-destroying drugs that prevent the cell division of cancerous cells.

A combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are commonly used to destroy the cancer cells. This treatment option is proven to be successful.