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Cancer has become a huge focus among both the media and the medical community over the last few decades, mainly due to its aggressive symptoms and equally difficult treatment. However, there is one form of cancer that is commonly being overlooked by both outlets due to the location it effects and its taboo status in society. I am talking about anal cancer.
What Is Anal Cancer?
Anal cancer is a fairly uncommon form of cancer that starts at the opening of one’s rectum, otherwise known as the anus.
Anal cancer is often overlooked due to the nature of the location that the cancer affects, and because society often associates it with s e x or dirtiness. This causes people who may be experiencing symptoms of anal cancer to not want to discuss it with their doctor or people they know due to embarrassment or shyness.
Anal-cancer is not to be confused with it’s more prevalent and well-known counterpart, colorectal cancer. Whereas colorectal cancer effects the entire large intestine and the rectum, anal cancer refers to cancer that effects only the opening of the rectum.
Although it is not as frequent as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer, the number of incidents of anal cancer is steadily increasing, and this may be due to the fact that people are not getting it treated early enough.
Symptoms of Anal Cancer
Although catching anal cancer at its earliest stages is incredibly important, it can be very hard to do so since many symptoms of anal cancer are not present during that time. However, as the cancer progresses, it can produce a wide variety of symptoms. Some of these include:
- Pain or tenderness in the anus
- Itching in the anus
- Anal bleeding
- Other unusual discharge from anus
- Presence of a lump or hard area near outside of anus
- Unusual bowel movements
In most cases, the cause of anal cancer is unclear. However, there are factors that can increase your risk of developing anal cancer, these can include frequent irritation of the anus, cigarette smoking and a compromised immune system.
The people who are most at risk for anal cancer is anybody over the age of 60, as 80% of anal cancer cases occur in people who fall under this demographic. Under the age of 35, men are most likely to develop anal cancer, however, after the age of 50 women become slightly more at risk than men.
How To Detect Anal Cancer Early
Detecting anal cancer during it’s beginning stages can be decisive in successfully overcoming it. There are many procedures that you can undergo which will detect it, ranging from a simple X-ray to more invasive ones. Here are some of them:
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