Living with Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is cancer of the anus, which is connected to the end of the large intestine. The most common type of anal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which forms in the outer lining of the anal canal. Other types include cloacogenic carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, and certain skin cancers. Just over 6,000 new cases of anal cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The five-year survival rate for anal cancer differs for men and women: for men, it is approximately 60%; for women, it is above 70%.

There are several risk factors for developing anal cancer: smoking, promiscuity, and anal intercourse are linked to the disease, as well as individuals who are female, over 50, and have been infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) – the virus that causes cervical cancer. Symptoms include pain, bleeding or lumps in the anal area; itching or unusual discharge from the anus, and change in bowel habits. The stages of anal cancer range from zero to IV, depending on tumor size and whether or not it has spread. Anal cancer treatments usually include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

For more information on anal cancer, read the American Cancer Society’s detailed guide.

Don't forget to view our Beginner's Guide to Cancer.

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