Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Overview

Anal cancer develops in the anal canal and anus. The anal canal is the short tube that connects the end of the large intestine (rectum) to the anus. The anus is the opening where bowel movements leave the body.

Anal cancer is rare. It occurs when normal cells change and grow uncontrollably. Over time, a tumor may form.

Most anal cancers develop from skin cells (squamous cells).  

You can also have noncancerous (benign) anal growths, such as warts and polyps. If left untreated, some noncancerous tumors can eventually become cancerous.

Treatment for anal cancer is often effective, especially when the cancer is found early. 

We know a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. We will provide you with the best treatment available.

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Types

There are several types of anal cancer. The type depends on where the cancer begins.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type. It starts in the lining of the anal canal.
  • Cloacogenic carcinoma occurs in cells near the middle of the anal canal (cloaca). These cancer cells behave and are treated similarly to squamous cell anal cancer.
  • Adenocarcinoma is uncommon. It develops under the anal lining in glands that make mucus, which acts as a lubricant. It can also form in cells that line the upper anal canal, near the rectum.

Rarely, anal tumors develop in: 

  • Skin around the anus.
  • Cells that give skin color. 

These types of tumors are skin cancers. They’re treated differently from tumors that develop in the anal canal.

Risk Factors

If you are age 50 or older or smoke tobacco, you may be at increased risk for anal cancer. Other risk factors include having:

  • A weakened immune system.
  • Multiple sexual partners.
  • Anal intercourse and frequent anal redness, soreness, and swelling.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact, often during sexual activity. There are over 100 types of HPV, but only some are linked to anal cancer.

Symptoms

Anal cancer doesn’t always cause visible symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Anal or rectal bleeding
  • Pain or pressure in the anal area
  • Anal itching
  • Anal discharge
  • Change in bowel habits, such as more narrow stool
  • A lump or swelling near the anus

Noncancerous conditions, such as hemorrhoids and anal warts, can also cause similar symptoms.  

It’s important that we assess your symptoms early on. Early treatment of anal cancer is most effective.

Diagnosis

To diagnose anal cancer, we:

  • Talk about your symptoms and risk factors.
  • Examine your anus for unusual lumps or swelling.
  • Remove a sample of any suspicious tissue (biopsy).

We may recommend additional tests, such as:

  • Digital rectal exam. We insert a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus to feel for abnormal changes.
  • Endoscopy. We use a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera to view the lining of the anus and lower rectum.
  • Proctoscopy. We use a long tube to view the rectum and biopsy abnormal tissue.
  • Endorectal ultrasound. We insert a probe into your anus to see how deep the tumor has grown.
  • Lymph node biopsy. We remove a small amount of fluid and tissue from an enlarged lymph node in your groin to look for cancer.
  • Imaging tests. We use X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and PET scans to learn if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Staging

Staging identifies how far the cancer has spread. The type of treatment depends on the stage of anal cancer.

The stages of anal cancer are:

  • Stage 0. This is very early cancer. Abnormal cells are found only on the surface of anal tissue.
  • Stage 1. The tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or less and has not spread.
  • Stage 2. The tumor is larger than 2 cm and has not spread.
  • Stage 3. The tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4. The tumor has spread to distant parts of the body.

Prevention

Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean you’ll develop anal cancer. For example, HPV infection is common. However, few people with HPV develop anal cancer. 

You can reduce your risk of anal cancer.

Practice safe sex. 

  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Avoid having sex with someone with many sexual partners.
  • Use protection (such as condoms) during anal intercourse.

Get an HPV vaccination before becoming sexually active. The vaccine doesn’t offer protection if you already have HPV. 

Do not smoke. Ask us about ways to help you quit.

Treatment

If you have anal cancer, we’ll talk about your treatment options and develop a plan that’s right for you. 

Treatment may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • A combination of these treatments

Your treatment depends on:

  • The stage of your cancer.
  • The location of the tumor.
  • If you have a weakened immune system, such as from HIV or another condition.
  • If you have just been diagnosed, or if the cancer has returned.
  • Your age and overall health.

Follow-Up Care

After treatment, you’ll have regular checkups to: 

  • Monitor your recovery.
  • Catch any early signs the cancer is returning.

Follow-up appointments are important. During these visits, we:  

  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Order any needed tests.
  • Answer your questions and concerns.
  • Make sure you know how to care for a permanent colostomy, if you have one. 

Important lifestyle choices after cancer treatment include:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid or stop smoking.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Seek support when needed.

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