Anal cancer is a malignant tumor, which develops from the abnormal growth of cells in the anus. The anus is the very end of the gastrointestinal tract. It is where the squamous cells in the anal tract meet the epithelial cells. This explains why anal cancer is often of a squamous cell carcinoma type. Anal cancer is rare. It occurs more frequently in people over 60 years of age. It is more common in those who have had multiple sexual partners and receptive anal intercourse.
Predisposing factors to anal cancer include human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammation associated with hemorrhoids, and fistulae. Moreover, smokers are eight times more likely to develop anal cancer than non-smokers. Twenty percent of patients may not feel any symptoms in the early stages of anal cancer. In some cases, it may be discovered during a routine yearly exam by the physician. This is because they are located in a part of the digestive tract that is easily accessible. The symptoms of anal cancer are quite serious in themselves and call for medical inspection or intervention.
1. Rectal Bleeding
Rectal bleeding is bleeding from the anus. This symptom is often the first sign of anal cancer. Therefore, a patient with rectal bleeding and without a history of hemorrhoids should not postpone a consultation with a medical practitioner. You may assume the bleeding from the anus is constant and heavy; however, it is more of a spotting type of flow. Rectal bleeding can manifest as blood in, or around, a stool. It may also be on toilet paper after you wipe or in the toilet bowl. It may also be paired with dizziness, blurred vision, fainting and shallow breathing, nausea, and confusion. In these cases, it’s best to seek medical help immediately.