Anal Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

Anal cancer is highly treatable when it is detected in the early stages. The surgeons at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York are leaders in their field who use the latest techniques and technology in both diagnoses and treatment. Our compassionate experts understand how difficult a cancer diagnosis can be for both patients and their loved ones, and will take plenty of time to explain the condition and treatment options. This combination of sophisticated treatment and patient education has allowed our team to help many patients successfully overcome a range of colorectal health conditions. If you are experiencing anal cancer symptoms, or if you have received a diagnosis, contact our Garden City, NY, practice today.

About Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is relatively rare. Only about 7,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, compared to about 137,000 cases of colorectal cancer. However, the number of anal cancer diagnoses has been steadily rising for many years. It is especially rare among patients younger than 35. The average age of diagnosis is the early 60s, and it is more common in women than in men. The best prognosis occurs when anal cancer is detected in the earliest stages, before it spreads to the lymph nodes.

Symptoms

It some cases, anal cancer causes no noticeable symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. However, in other cases, the early stages can present:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal itching
  • Pain or pressure in the anal area
  • Changes in bowel movements (such as narrowing of the stool)
  • Abnormal anal discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the anal area or groin
  • A lump or mass near the anus

It is important to know that the symptoms of anal cancer are similar to several other conditions such as anal ulcers, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and inflammatory bowel disease. A colorectal specialist can identify your condition and provide the appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis

Anal cancer may be diagnosed when symptoms arise, or it can be detected during a screening such as a digital rectal exam. In some cases, anal cancer is detected during another procedure, such as the removal of a hemorrhoid. If anal cancer is suspected, your doctor can order a biopsy, and the specimen will be examined by a pathologist. If tests reveal cancer cells, further tests can help determine how far the condition has progressed.  

Treatments

The treatment of anal cancer depends on the location of the cancer, the stage it has reached, your age, general health, and other factors. The three main anal cancer treatment methods are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. We usually recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy first, which is called chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy. Our doctors will take all the time needed to explain your treatment options and answer your questions so you can make the best decision for you or your loved one.

Make an Appointment

If you are experiencing symptoms of anal cancer, we encourage you to contact us today and schedule an appointment. We also encourage anyone approaching age 50 to undergo a comprehensive exam to evaluate colorectal health.

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