What is Anal Cancer?

Anal cancer is cancer of the anus.

The anus is the opposite of the mouth i.e. this opening is located at the end of the digestive system and is used to eject feces and other unwanted or dangerous foreign matter. It is primarily for the elimination of solid wastes in humans.

The symptoms of anal cancer are a lump or tumor near the anus, itching, bleeding and discharge from the anus and a change in bowel habits

The risk factors for this cancer are having:

1. Multiple sex partners. Promiscuity combined with anal sex.

2. Homosexuals (due to anal sex- are 17 times more likely to suffer from anal sex than heterosexual males).

3. Those having HPV infections generally referred to as Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the most popular STD. People who have suffered from this disease are at a higher risk of developing anal cancer

4. Smokers stand a higher risk of contacting rectal cancer than the general population

5. Age is also a determinant. It only occurs in people older than 50 years of age.

6. H.I.V infection makes one susceptible to anal cancer due to the suppression of the immune system by the disease.

Treatment of anal cancer is usually effective if treated early. Treatments include:

1. Chemotherapy

This is the use of drugs to kill the cancerous cells. This can be in the form of an injection, drugs or pills. The injections are through a catheter. The drugs kill the cancer cells.

2. Radiation

Radiation therapy is administered along with chemotherapy. In some instances, chemotherapy is discontinued due to side effects.

3. Surgical Operation

A surgical operation can be carried out on the affected part. However, this should be recommended as a last resort.

This is because surgery leads to the permanent creation of a colostomy in the abdomen called a stoma. The stoma will now perform the task of the anus- that of excreting feces.

The best way of preventing anal cancer is to curb anal sex, reduce exposure to H.I.V, treat HPV infections and quit smoking.

If you notice any of the above symptoms of anal cancer, it is recommended you seek help fast.