Anal Cancer – Also known as Anal Carcinoma

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Is a type of cancer which occurs in the anal canal. Symptoms of anal cancer include bloating and changes in bowel habits, a lump near the anus or anal canal, rectal bleeding, itching or discharge. Risk factors include having Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, specifically types 16 and 18 (which are also linked to cervical cancer in women). These types are not associated with genital and anal warts (which are caused by other HPV types that do not cause anal cancer). Anal lesions are abnormal cells that differ in colour and texture to surrounding tissue, which may start as a small lump. Your doctor will determine if they are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cancer tumours – versus low or high grade (pre-cancerous) lesions. It’s important to ask your doctor about screening examinations. Early detection of anal cancer is important for treatment success, as treatment for anal cancer varies and can be drawn out and stressful. Forms of treatment include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, and surgery. The presence of low or high grade lesions does not always progress to SCC anal cancer, but may suggest more regular examination is required. Anal cancer is uncommon, but on the increase among people living with HIV (PLHIV). The rates of anal cancer are also much higher in gay men than the general population. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of all cancers, including anal cancer. If you smoke, and are ready to consider quitting, speak to your doctor about treatment and support to assist you to quit smoking. Also see: www.qpp.org.au/living-hiv-staying-healthy/support-quit-smoking