The chance of early diagnosis depends on the type and location of the anal cancer. Those that form higher up in the anal canal are less likely to cause symptoms and be found early. Anal melanomas tend to spread earlier than other cancers, making it harder to diagnose them early.
It is also important not to confuse anal and colorectal cancer, as colorectal cancer affects the whole large intestine and the rectum, while the anal cancer affects only the beginning of the rectum.
Every year, more than 8,000 Americans are diagnosed with anal cancer. It is estimated that 1,000 of them will die from it. Statistics show that one of every four people who suffer from anal cancer has been diagnosed after the disease has spread to lymph nodes, and one of every ten people has been diagnosed after it has spread to other organs.
Even though the cases of anal cancer are not as frequent like the other types of cancer such as colon, rectal, or colorectal cancer, the number of people who suffer from it has grown rapidly in the last decade.
Some of the anal cancer signs include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal itching
- A lump or mass at the anal opening
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal area
- Narrowing of stool or other changes in bowel movements
- Abnormal discharge from the anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin areas
Very often these types of symptoms are more likely to be caused by benign (non-cancer) conditions, like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal warts. But, this doesn’t mean that you should overlook them; on the contrary, you must visit a doctor immediately to set a precise diagnosis.