Anal cancer is a kind of malignant tumor as a result of anal cells canceration, which mainly occurs in anal tube or anal margin skin. Hematochezia, pain, bowel evacuation habit change and anal foreign body sensation are symptoms of early anal cancer, which are similar to symptoms of common diseases such as internal hemorrhoids and anal fissure and result in clinical misdiagnosis. Therefore, if those symptoms occur, it’s better to have anal routine examination and even take anal cancer screening if necessary.
How is anal cancer diagnosed?
1. Digital rectal exam
This exam has two parts which include the check for the anus and the inside of it. If you have symptoms of rectal bleeding or feeling of lumps，you can take this exam.
(1)The way to check the anus: the doctor will touch the anal area with gloved finger to feel for solid callus or lump, and check if there are other abnormalities like tenderness, fluctuation or anus fistula.
(2) The way to check the inside of the anus (Digital Anus Exam): Inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus and rectum to feel for lumps or other abnormalities. If you have symptoms like rectal bleeding please take the exam in time.
Endoscopy can be used to look for the cause of the anal problems and inner part of the rectum. For this test, you either lie on your side on an examining table, with your knees bent up to your chest, or you bent forward over the table. Endoscopy has different types include anoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. When you have bowl movement change, you can take this test to find out the cause.
Biopsy can often be done through the scope itself. If cancer is present, the pathologist will describe the cell type and extent of the cancer in the report. If the tumor is very small, and the growth happens on the surface of anus, your doctor might try to remove the entire tumor during the biopsy.
4. Chest X-ray: it is the first step of in vitro metastasis examination of anal cancer. If there is no abnormality in chest X-ray, it is less possibility of anal cancer metastasis. If there is abnormality in chest X-ray, detailed examinations are recommended.
5. Computed Tomography: CT examination can detect the tumor’s size, location and form and enlarged lymph nodes as well as metastasizing tumor. When lump and lymph nodes enlargement occur, that examination is recommended.