Annually, there are over 7000 cases of anal cancer reported in America, of which almost 950 meet an unfortunate mortal fate within a few months of diagnosis. Anal cancer affects the anal tissues; once it becomes malignant the cancer cells invade the anal canal further. Anal cancers are uncommon in contrast to cancers of other organs, and become malignant in a majority of patients due to lack of onset of symptoms. Approximately 50% of anal cancer cases are detectable and treatable before they turn malignant. The overall 5-year survival prognosis is around 80% if the cancer is diagnosed early and has a higher incidence in women as compared to men. Anal cancer is more prominent in single men rather than married men due to association with multiple sexual partners, thereby increasing the likelihood of developing the disease due to infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts. HIV positive individuals are also at a great risk of contracting the dreaded disease, often having a worse prognosis due to a greatly compromised immune system.
Anal tumours can be benign like the polyps in the mucous membrane of the anal canal, skin tags of connective tissue and anal warts. Besides, there are many other types of rare benign tumours that grow in various cells types of the anal region such as muscle, nerve and lining of blood vessels. During the initial stages, the abnormal changes in the anal tissues are not malignant, although the changes lead to an aggressive cancer if not treated at the earliest.
Anal Cancer: Medindia.net
Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
The cellular lining of the anal canal and anal margin starts growing abnormally to develop into an invasive carcinoma, which is the most common of all anal cancers. The onset phase is termed as carcinoma in situ or Bowen’s disease when the cancer is confined only to the upper layer of the anal tissues.
Contributing to 15% of the anal cancers, adenocarcinoma is cancer of the mucous secreting glands that line the anal canal.
A fraction of anal cancers are basal cell carcinoma or melanoma of the skin cells.
There are other types of anal cancers such as the lymphomas and gastrointestinal stromal tumours, which are quite rare.
The actual cause of anal cancers is not known, but there could be multiple factors that increase the risk of developing the malignancy:
- Cervical or vaginal cancer
- HIV positive or organ transplantation
- HPV infection
- Frequent anal disorders such as fistulas, redness and sore skin
- Indulgence in anal sex
- Multiple sexual partners
In some cases anal cancer displays no clear signs. Mild bleeding while defecation is one of the initial symptoms, which people often ignore confusing them to be haemorrhoids. Some of the key pointers that should not be ignored are:
- Rectal itching and bleeding
- Bulged growth of palpable mass at the anal opening
- Abnormal growth of haemorrhoids in size
- Excruciating pain in anal region
- Abnormal bowels, constipation or incontinence and unusual discharge
- Swelling in the groin and associated anal lymph nodes
- False urge of defecation
In a majority of cases these signs could also arise due to benign anal warts or other ano-rectal problems, hence, an expert opinion and examination is always recommended for early diagnosis and improved prognosis.
Anal cancers like several cancers are treated via chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of both. The survival rates can be high if diagnosed and treated early, thereby minimizing the risk of colostomy. Surgery and salvage therapy are the last options for those patients who fail to show a beneficial outcome from chemo- or radiation therapies.
Koya Stopiles in Hyderabad, and now in Bangalore too, is a clinic specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of various anal problems. The team of doctors and surgeons at the facility have extensive experience in treating various anal conditions, aided also by experts who monitor the cases from other countries. The techniques used for the treatment are latest, US-FDA approved, minimally invasive and designed specifically to suit a patient’s need, lifestyle and symptoms. Patients visiting the clinic are successfully treated for their anal problems like fistulas and haemorrhoids, one of the high risks factors of an anal malignancy if left untreated.