Anal Cancer

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At UVA Health, you'll find the most effective interventions for anal cancer. This is a rare cancer. But we know it well. We have the region's only anal clinic.

Seek Treatment Right Away 

It's important for anyone experiencing symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or discharge from the anus to seek medical attention right away.

The earlier we detect anal cancer the better. The outlook for this type of cancer has improved significantly in recent years.

At UVA Health, you'll find colorectal surgeons highly skilled in removing this type of cancer. You may also need radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

We'll customize treatment based on the stage and location of the cancer, your overall health, and other factors.

What Is Anal Cancer?

Anal cancer is cancer of the anus. This is the canal at the end of the large intestine, below the rectum. The anal sphincter is a muscular ring that controls and allows for bowel movements.

Anal cancer is considered a serious disease. It can spread quickly to nearby tissues and organs. It can even spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, and bones.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is linked to many anal cancers. However, most people who have been infected with HPV don't get anal cancer.

What Are Symptoms?

Some anal cancers do not have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Anal bleeding with and without a bowel movement
  • Pain or pressure around the anus
  • Itching or discharge from the anus
  • A lump near the anus
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Thinning in the width of the stool

Who's at Risk?

Any of these can increase your risk of anal cancer:

  • HPV infection
  • Receptive anal intercourse
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • HIV infection
  • Use of immunosuppressant drugs
  • Smoking
  • Cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer

How We Diagnosis Anal Cancer

The rectum and anus may need to be examined. This can be done with:

  • Anoscopy
  • Proctoscopy

Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy (taking a small sample of tissue)

Images may be taken of your body structures. These may include:

  • Endoscopy
  • Transrectal ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Combined PET/CT scan
  • MRI scan

Vaccine To Prevent Cancer

You may be able to reduce your risk of anal cancer by reducing your exposure to HIV and HPV. A vaccine can protect against HPV. Talk to your doctor about the vaccine.