Dr. Rajendra Sonavane
Certified training in LASER surgery, Germany & Poland
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer is cancer of the anal canal and / or rectum (last part of the large intestine).As we understand, cancer is an uncontrolled growth of malignant (cancerous) cells. Early stage of anal cancer can be effectively treated. But, once it advances and spreads to other parts of the body, it may become life-threatening. Hence, early diagnosis and treatment is very crucial for a patient.
What are the signs and symptoms of anal cancer?
Symptoms of anal cancer can mimic piles (hemorrhoids), Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal diseases. We recommend getting a thorough examination and evaluation done by a qualified doctor, if you observe any of the following symptoms:
- Changes in bowel movement
- Thin stools
- Bleeding or abnormal discharge from the rectum
- Formation of lump near the anal opening
- Pain or itching near the anus
- Loss of body weight
What causes anal cancer?
The incidence of anal cancer is low, yet to ignore any of the signs can be fatal, since the chance of metastasis and spread to other regions is high. While in most anal cancer cases, the cause is HPV (human papilloma virus), a sexually transmitted infection, in some cases; it may spread from other affected part of the body.
What are the risks factors for anal cancer?
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Multiple sexual partners, particularly anal sex
- Weak immune system
How is anal cancer diagnosed?
If one experiences rectal bleeding, itching, or pain in the anus, he/ she must get examined by a qualified doctor. If the doctor suspects cancer, the patient will be asked to undergo certain tests. A digital examination of the rectum can detect some cases of ano-rectal carcinoma. During routine prostate examination in men and pelvic examination for women, a doctor may chance upon the anal cancer, which may have no symptoms initially. We have the advanced diagnostic tool like video colonoscopy to detect anal cancer and biopsy of the suspicious area can be performed for detection. A CT Scan, using contrast also helps in determining the spread of the disease.
What is the treatment of anal cancer?
At Proctocare clinic, we work with oncologists and onco-surgeons to treat a cancer patient. Depending on the stage and extent of anal cancer, two types of surgeries can be performed:
- Laparoscopic anterior resection of the rectum: In this resection surgery, the tumour is removed laparoscopically along with some surrounding healthy tissues and rest of the bowel is connected with stapler. This procedure is recommended for early stage patients who have cancer in the lower part of their rectum and the size of tumour is small and the spread of cancer is limited.
- Abdominoperineal (AP) resection is a more invasive surgery where the anus, rectum and/ or part of the large intestine are removed. Since the entire lower portion of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract is removed, the surgeon connects the remaining GI tract to the outer skin and attaches a bag to collect the stools.
Can anal cancer be prevented?
Cancer is not preventable but the risk can be reduced:
- Practice safe sex
- Get regular check-ups done
- Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible
- HPV vaccination provides protection against some types of HPV that commonly cause anal cancer