Anal Cancer : Types, Stages, Symptoms, Causes, and Tests

Anal Cancer : Types, Stages, Symptoms, Causes, and Tests

Anal Cancer (Cancer of anus) is an uncommon type of cancer that occurs in the anus. The anus is an opening at the end of the digestive which stool passes out of the body. It is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of...

Anal Cancer (Cancer of anus) is an uncommon type of cancer that occurs in the anus. The anus is an opening at the end of the digestive which stool passes out of the body. It is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the anal canal.

Types of Anal Cancer

There are various types of Anal Cancer, depending on the type of cells in which the cancer starts. The types of anal cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This anal cancer type develops in the squamous cells that line the anus. The most anal cancers are of this type.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of anal cancer develops in the glandular cells that produce mucus in the anus.
  • Basaloid carcinoma: This is an uncommon as well as an aggressive form of anal cancer that develops in the basal cells that line the anal canal.
  • Melanoma: This is a type of skin cancer that can develop in the skin around the anus.
  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma: This is a rare type of anal cancer that develops in the hormone-producing cells in the anus.

Stages of Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is staged based on various factors such as:

  • Tumor size
  • The spread of cancer whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other body parts.

The stages of Anal Cancer are as follows:

Stage 0: The cancer at this stage known as carcinoma in situ. In this stage, the cancer cells are present only in the top layer of the anal tissue and have not spread to deeper layers or nearby lymph nodes.

Stage I: In this stage, cancer has grown into the deeper layers of the anal tissue but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage II: In this stage, the spread of cancer is to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant parts of the body.

Stage III: In this stage, cancer has spread to nearby organs or tissues, such as the vagina or prostate, or distant lymph nodes.

Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of anal cancer, where cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

The prognosis and treatment options for anal cancer depend on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis, as well as other factors such as the patient's age and overall health. Early detection and treatment can improve the prognosis for anal cancer.

Symptoms of anus cancer

The symptoms of anal cancer may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the anal area.
  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum.
  • Itching, burning, or soreness in the anal area.
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea.
  • A lump or mass near the anus.
  • Swelling in the anal area
  • Feeling of fullness in the anal area.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Abnormal discharge from the anus.
  • Incontinence or difficulty controlling bowel movements.

Causes of anus cancer

The exact cause of anal cancer is not always clear, but certain factors have been identified that can increase the risk of developing this type of cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Infection with certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), especially HPV-16 and HPV-18.
  • Weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, organ transplantation, or other conditions.
  • History of anal, vaginal or cervical cancer.
  • Receptive anal intercourse.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Older age.
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Family history of anal or colorectal cancer.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins.

Prevention of anus cancer

There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing anal cancer:

  • Get vaccinated against HPV: The HPV vaccine can help protect against the types of HPV that are most commonly associated with anal cancer.
  • Practice safe sex: Using condoms during sexual activity can help reduce the risk of HPV infection.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including anal cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  • Get regular check-ups: It's important to see a doctor regularly for routine screenings and to report any unusual symptoms or changes in bowel habits.
  • Practice good hygiene: Good hygiene practices, such as washing the anal area with mild soap and water, can help reduce the risk of infection.
  • Treat any underlying conditions: If you have a weakened immune system, inflammatory bowel disease, or other conditions that increase the risk of anal cancer, it's important to work with your doctor to manage these conditions and reduce the risk of developing cancer.

It is important to note that while these steps can help reduce the risk of developing anal cancer, they do not guarantee prevention. Therefore, it's important to maintain regular check-ups with a doctor, especially if any of the above risk factors are present.

Diagnosis of Anal Cancer

The diagnosis of anal cancer typically involves several steps which may include:

Medical History and Physical Examination: Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and symptoms, and perform a physical examination, including a digital rectal exam to check for lumps or any abnormalities in the anal area.

Anal PAP Test: The doctor will perform Anal PAP Test by inserting the cotton swab into your anus to collect the cells for laboratory analysis.

Biopsy: If your doctor suspects that you may have anal cancer, they will likely perform a biopsy. During the procedure of biopsy, a small tissue is taken from the affected area to examine under a microscope in the laboratory to confirm whether the cancer cells are present.

Imaging Procedures: Once a diagnosis of anal cancer has been confirmed, your doctor may order imaging tests to determine the extent of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. These may include CT pelvis scans, MRI pelvis scans, or whole body pet scans.


Anal Cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the tissues of the anus. It can develop in either the anal or anus opening. It is often associated with HPV infection. The symptoms of anal cancer may include anus bleeding, itching, discharge, or a lump in the anal area. The treatment of anal cancer varies, depending on the location and spread of cancer. The early detection of anal cancer helps in getting accurate treatment for anal cancer.

Ganesh Diagnostic and Imaging centre offers an ideal health package for patients who are experiencing the symptoms of anal cancer or are at higher risk of developing anal cancer. This anal cancer screening package is highly cost-effective and helps you or your loved ones in getting the one-stop solution for your diagnostic needs regarding anal cancer.