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Diagnosis and Treatments for Anal Cancer
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Most patients who are diagnosed with anal cancer are over 60 years of age. Bleeding from rectum or anus, pain in the anus, growth or mass in the canal and anal itching are some signs of anal cancer.
The diagnosis and treatment available for anal cancer are discussed below:


Procedures and tests used for diagnosing anal cancer are as follow:
  • Examination of Rectum and Anal Canal for Abnormalities

  • A rectal exam will be performed by the physician and he/she will insert lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. He/she will feel for anything strange or unusual like growth.

  • Visual Inspection of the Rectum and Anal Canal

  • The rectum or anal canal may be inspected for anything unusual with the help of a lighted tube called anoscope.

  • Taking Ultrasound of the Anal Canal

    The doctor will insert a small probe that looks like a thermometer into the rectum and anal canal. The probe will emit high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound waves) which will bounce off organs and tissues in the body to create an image. The doctor will evaluate the image to check for abnormalities.

  • Tissue Sample to Perform Laboratory Tests

    If unusual areas are discovered by the doctor, he/she may take a small tissue sample of affected area and send them for laboratory tests. Doctors will look at the tissue cells under a special microscope to determine whether they are cancerous.

Extent of Anal Cancer

Once it is confirmed that the patient has anal cancer, additional tests may be performed to determine whether the cancer has affected other areas like lymph nodes. Tests can include MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography).


The treatment given to a patient depends on the extent of anal cancer, their overall health and their own preferences. The treatments available for anal cancer include:

Combined Radiation and Chemotherapy

Anal cancer is usually treated by combining radiation and chemotherapy.


In radiation therapy, high-energy beams like protons and X-rays are used to eliminate cancer cells. The patient is positioned on a straight table and a machine that directs radiation rays to certain parts of the body moves around them.

Radiation can cause damage to healthy tissues of the body near where rays are aimed. Sores around and in the anus, skin redness and shrinking and hardening of the anal canal are some side effects of radiation.


The patient is required to take chemotherapy drugs as pills or they can be injected directly into their vein. The chemicals make their way through the body cells that grow rapidly like cancer cells. The downside is that the rapidly growing healthy cells are also damaged during the process including the ones in the hair follicles and gastrointestinal tract. Hair loss, vomiting and nausea are side effects associated with this treatment.


Surgery may also be used to treat anal cancer. Doctors can perform surgery at early stage to remove small tumor. It is also a viable treatment option for late stage anal cancers or when other treatments aren’t effective.

If you believe you may be suffering from anal cancer and need to speak with an expert about diagnosis and treatment, contact Colon and Rectal Disease Center today.

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