Anal Cancer

Anal CancerOn October 5, 2009 at 5:05 am



Anal Cancer is a rare condition caused due to malignant and anomalous cell proliferation that affects the rear end of the gastrointestinal tract – the anus.

An anal cancer diagnosis conducted annually in the UK revealed roughly eight hundred patients in a total populace of 61 million (2009). According to an estimate provided by the American Cancer Society, nearly 5,070 newly emergent anal cancer cases were detected in the U.S. in 2008, from which nearly sixty percent were of women. Majority of the anal cancer patients are identified in the age group of early sixties. In 2008, nearly 680 individuals died due to anal cancer in the U.S. having an estimate populace of nearly three hundred million in 2009. Reports have cited that this form of cancer is on a perennial upswing in both sexes especially among U.S. men. A varying drift in sexual practices – merged with usage of tobacco and infection due to a particular HPV or human papilloma virus strain are amongst the reasons behind this surge.

Anal CancerAnal Cancer is prevalent among that populace of both sexes that freely consented to anal intercourse and among individuals with depleted immune systems. Experts have stated that anal cancer is closely related to few strains of HPV.

The anus, anal canal and the Squamous Cell Carcinomas

The anus lies at the end of the GI or gastrointestinal tract while the anal canal is the interconnecting tube between the rectum and the outside part of the body. The anal canal is delimited by the sphincter – a muscle with its contraction and relaxation action is responsible for controlling bowel movements.

The squamous cells are flat and fish-scale like in appearance, forming a lining inside the anal canal. Most of the anal cancer cases developing from these squamous cells are called squamous cell carcinomas.

The spot where the anal canal gives way to the rectum is known as the transitional zone. This zone is lined by squamous cells and glandular cells that produce mucus thus providing lubrication for easy passage of stool or feces. Adenocarcinoma – a cancerous form affecting the anus could arise from the glandular cells, yet squamous cell carcinomas constitute for most of the anal cancer cases.

Anal Cancer Symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the rectum while passing feces.
  • Pain and discomfort experienced in the anal region.
  • Lumpy formations in the area around the anus that often gets misjudged for piles or hemorrhoids.
  • The anus emitting at times either mucus-like or jelly-like discharge.
  • Itchiness in the anal region.
  • Variations in the movements of the bowels that could comprise of diarrhea, being constipated or loose stools.
  • Incapacity to control bowel movements known as fecal incontinence.
  • Feeling bloated or distended.
  • Women might feel a sharp pain in the lower back due the pressure being exerted by the tumor on the vagina.
  • Dryness felt in the vagina.

Anal Cancer Causes:

The true reasons behind the occurrence of anal cancer is still quite blurred, though the below stated factors could possibly raise the risks.

  • Presence of HPV or Human Papilloma Virus – Some HPV forms have been strongly associated with anal cancer. Nearly, eighty percent of anal cancer cases arise due to HPV infection.
  • Sexual Promiscuousness – has additionally been associated with HPV. The greater the shifting among sexual partners, the higher is the risk factor of contracting HPV that has strongly been related to anal cancer.
  • Amenable anal intercourse – Both the sexes that opted for anal intercourse had an increased likelihood of developing anal cancer. A study has revealed that those HIV-infected men that had sexual contacts with the same sex were close to ninety times more prone to developing anal cancer as compared to the general populace.
  • Other cancerous forms – Those women that had a past of vaginal or cervical cancer and men with a history of penile cancer are at a greater likelihood of contracting anal cancer. This has also been related to HPV infection.
  • Aging – Aging is known to be directly proportional to development of anal cancer that seems to rise as age increases.
  • A diminished immune system – Those with lowered immunity like HIV or AIDS infected persons, those having undergone transplants or are on the course of immunosuppressant medicines are noted to be at increased risk of developing anal cancer.
  • Smoking – Those who smoke are more prone to contracting anal cancer than non-smokers. Factually, smoking has been noted to be the harbinger of a host of cancerous forms.
  • Non-malignant anal abrasions – Inflammation arising from benign anal lacerations caused due to either irritable bowel disease or IBD, hemorrhoid, fistulae or cicatrices are known to raise the chances of developing anal cancers.
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