Anal Cancer

Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.

  • What is Anal Cancer

    Anal Cancer is a disease which forms in the tissue cells of the anus. The anus is the end of the large intestine, below the rectum, through which stool leaves the body.
    It is formed partly from the outer skin layers of the body and partly from the intestine. The anal canal – the part of the anus between the rectum and the anal opening – is about 3.8cm long.

    Most anal cancers are Squamous Cell Cancers. Squamous cells are a type of cell that line the surface of the anal canal. Adenocarcinoma of the anus is a rare type of anal cancer which affects the mucus that coats the stool.

    The skin around the outside of the anus is called the perianal area. Tumours in this area are skin tumours, not anal cancer.

  • Anal cancer symptoms

    Common symptoms for anal cancer include:

    • Bleeding from the anus or rectum.
    • Pain or pressure in the area around the anus.
    • Itching or discharge from the anus.
    • A lump near the anus.
    • A change in bowel habits.

    There are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms. If any of these symptoms are experienced, it is important that they are discussed with a doctor.

  • Anal cancer treatment

    Diagnosing anal cancer

    In order to successfully diagnose anal cancer the following tests and procedures may be used:

    • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): An exam of the anus and rectum.
    • Anoscopy: The anus and lower rectum is examined using a short, lighted tube called an anoscope.
    • Proctoscopy: The rectum is examined using a short, lighted tube called a proctoscope.
    • Endo-anal or endorectal ultrasound: An ultrasound transducer (probe) is inserted into the anus or rectum.
    • Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues to be examined.

    Anal Cancer Treatment

    Different types of treatments are available for patients with anal cancer. The most common are; surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

    Surgery options include:

    • Local resection: This surgical procedure sees the tumour cut from the anus along with some of the healthy tissue around it. Local resection may be used if the cancer is small and has not spread.
    • Abdominoperineal resection: This procedure removes the anus, the rectum, and part of the sigmoid colon through an incision made in the abdomen. The surgeon will then sew the end of the intestine to an opening made in the surface of the abdomen so body waste can be collected in a disposable bag outside of the body. This is called a colostomy.

Anal cancer risk

  • 440

    is the estimated incidence of anal cancer in 2018.

  • 67.1%

    is the estimated 5 year survival rate for anal cancer in 2018.

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Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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