Home Surgeon Profile Locations Contact Us   Links    News   FAQ's  Glossary 
Common Bowel Problems
 Anal Abscess / Fistula
>Anal Cancer
 Anal Fissure
 Anal Warts
 Colonoscopy
 Colorectal Cancer
 Constipation
 Crohn's Disease
 Diverticular Disease
 Haemorrhoids
 Irritable Bowel Syndrome
 Peri-anal Haematoma
 Pilonidal Disease
 Polyps of the Colon & Rectum
 Pruritus Ani
 Rectal Prolapse
 Screening & Surveillance for Colorectal Cancer
 Ulcerative Colitis
Keyhole Surgery
 Gallstone Disease and Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
 Incisional Hernia
 Inguinal Hernia
 Keyhole Surgery


www.bowelandkeyholeclinic.com


Anal Cancer

WHAT IS ANAL CANCER?

The anus is the area in the bottom joining outside skin to the rectum.  Anal cancer arises from the cells around the anal opening or within the anal canal up to its junction with the rectum.

All cancers are groups of cells which have lost control of there normal growth patterns.  This means small abnormal lumps occur.  They grow into neighbouring tissues, this is called local invasion, or can give of seedlings which form secondary tumours in lymph nodes or other organs such as the liver.

If left without treatment cancers cause problems either through local effects or pressure on vital organs or over whelming and eventually killing the patient.

How COMMON IS ANAL CANCER?

Anal cancer is rare. 

It accounts for about 1-2% of all gastrointestinal cancers.  Less than 800 people are diagnosed with it each year in the UK.   (Compare this with bowel cancer in which over 35,000 patients are diagnosed each year in the UK.)

WHO IS AT RISK?

We do not know the exact cause of most anal cancers.  But we do know that certain risk factors are linked to anal cancer.

  • Age: Most people with anal cancer are over 50 years old.







     
  • Anal warts: Infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes condyloma (warts) may increase the chance of developing anal cancer.







     
  • Anal sex:  People who participate in anal sex are at an increased risk.







     
  • Smoking: Harmful chemicals from smoking increase the risk of most cancers including anal cancer.







     
  • Lowered immunity: People with weakened immune systems, such as transplant patients who must take drugs to suppress their immune systems and patients with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection, are at a somewhat higher risk.







     

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ANAL CANCER?

Anal cancers often cause symptoms such as:

  • Bleeding from the rectum or anus







     
  • The feeling of a lump or mass at the anal opening







     
  • Pain in the anal area







     
  • Persistent or recurrent itching







     
  • Change in bowel habits (having more or fewer bowel movements) or increased straining during a bowel movement







     
  • Discharge (mucous or pus) from the anus







     
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the anal or groin areas

Clearly all these symptoms are also caused by less serious conditions such as haemorrhoids but you should never assume this.  If you have any of these symptoms you should seek an opinion from your GP or another qualified doctor.

HOW IS ANAL CANCER DIAGNOSED?

The diagnosis as well looking at the back passage usually requires a digital rectal examination.  A doctor has a feel into the back passage with a gloved finger.

If needed a biopsy will need to done.  This is when a sample of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope.  Such a biopsy is usually done under anaesthetic.

If the diagnosis is confirmed further scans such as CT or MRI (Magnetic Resonance) are required to determine the extent of local and metastatic spread of the disease.

HOW ARE ANAL CANCERS TREATED?

Treatment for most cases of anal cancer is very effective. 

Most cases are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Occasionally a very small or early tumour may be removed surgically (local excision), with minimal damage to the anal sphincter muscles.

More advanced disease or where this treatment fails the back passage is removed.  This requires creation of a colostomy. This means the patient needs to wear a bag to collect the bodies waste material (or poo).

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TREATMENT FOR ANAL CANCER?

Follow-up care to assess the results of treatment and to check for recurrence is very important.  Therefore regular checks with observation and digital examinations are needed.

Many tumours that recur may be successfully treated if they are caught early. 

Additional studies may be recommended.  You should report any symptoms or problems to your doctor right away.

CONCLUSION

Anal cancers are unusual tumours arising from the skin or mucosa of the anal canal.  As with most cancers, early detection is associated with excellent survival. 

Most tumours are well treated with combination chemotherapy and radiation.  Recurrences may often be treated successfully. 

Follow the recommended screening examinations for anal and colorectal cancer and consult your doctor early when any anorectal symptoms occur.

 

If you wish to arrange an appointment with Dr. Rob Church at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai

Contact Al Zahra Call Center on +971 4-378-6666