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  1. Basics
  2. Symptoms
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment
  5. Preventions
  6. Knowledge Center

Our Approach

Cathy Eng, M.D., FACP, examines a patient in the Colorectal Center. Dr. Eng's research interests include novel combinations of therapies to treat anal cancer.

MD Anderson’s Colorectal Center treats more patients with anal cancer than most other cancer centers in the nation. This depth of experience and expertise sets us apart, enabling us to offer you the most accurate diagnosis methods and the very latest treatments for anal cancer.

Your care plan is customized by a team of renowned anal cancer specialists. They work together to ensure the most-advanced therapies with the fewest possible side effects. During treatment and beyond, they are supported by specially trained nurses, social workers, nutritionists and others.

Our high level of experience in minimally invasive and sphincter-sparing surgeries and other innovative techniques can help many people with anal cancer. We offer the most advanced therapies for every type of anal cancer, including in people with HIV and AIDS. Because we know quality of life is important, we make every effort to preserve the sphincter, without affecting control of bowel movements.

Leading-Edge Treatment and Research

As one of the world’s largest cancer research centers, MD Anderson is leading the investigation into new methods of anal cancer diagnosis and treatment. You benefit from the most advanced research and a range of clinical trials of new agents.

And, at MD Anderson you’re surrounded by the strength of one of the nation’s largest and most experienced comprehensive cancer centers. We have all the support and wellness services needed to treat the whole person – not just the disease.

Anal cancer often does not have symptoms. When it does have symptoms, they vary from person to person. If you have anal cancer symptoms, they may include:

  • Anal or rectal bleeding
  • Pain or pressure around the anus
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Narrower stool than usual
  • A lump close to the anus
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin area
  • Anal discharge

These symptoms do not always mean you have anal cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms that last more than two weeks with your doctor, since they may signal other health problems.

Finding anal cancer in the early stages and diagnosing it accurately can help improve your chances for successful therapy. Since MD Anderson treats more cases of anal cancer than many cancer centers, our specialists are among the most skilled and experienced in diagnosing it. We have the most advanced and accurate technology, as well as specialized experts to interpret results.

Anal Cancer Diagnosis

If you have symptoms that may signal anal cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health, your lifestyle, including smoking and drinking habits, and your family history.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have anal cancer and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.

Imaging tests

, which may include:

  • Anoscopy: A short tube with a camera is inserted into the anus and lower rectum. The doctor examines the anus and can biopsy tissue.
  • Proctoscopy: A short tube with a camera is inserted into the anus to the rectum. The doctor examines the anus and can biopsy tissue.
  • Double contrast barium enema (DCBE): Barium is a chemical that allows the bowel lining to show up on an X-ray. You will be given an enema with a barium solution, and then X-rays will be taken.
  • Colonoscopy
  • Virtual colonoscopy or CT (computed tomography) colonoscopy
  • CT or CAT (computed tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • PET/CT (positron emission tomography) scans
  • Endo-anal or endorectal ultrasound: An endoscope is inserted into the anus. A probe at the end of the endoscope bounces high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off organs to make an image (sonogram). Also called endosonography.
  • Chest X-Ray

Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy

:  Anal cancer may spread through the lymph system, and sometimes it is found in lymph nodes. A tiny needle is placed into a lymph node, and cells are removed and looked at with a microscope. A positive lymph node biopsy may help the doctor decide what areas to treat with radiation therapy.  

Our Treatment Approach

As one of the nation’s largest cancer centers, we care for more patients with anal cancer than most other hospitals. At MD Anderson, a team of experts personalizes your comprehensive care plan to be sure you receive the most effective treatment with the fewest possible side effects.

A team of anal cancer specialists, including oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons and others as needed, focus on your treatment. They are supported by a group of specially trained nurses, nutritionists and social workers.

Most Advanced Therapies

We make every effort to preserve the sphincter without affecting control of bowel movements, and we use all means possible to decrease the risk of a colostomy.  However, if a colostomy is needed, highly qualified nurses help you make the transition and maintain your quality of life.

If you have anal cancer that has spread (metastasized) and/or have HIV or AIDS, we offer the most advanced treatments, as well as clinical trials (research studies) of new agents.

Anal Cancer Screening

Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re healthy and don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for treating it are best.

The chances for successful treatment are much higher when anal cancer is found early. While anal cancer often does not have symptoms, a digital rectal exam (DRE) can diagnose some cases early.

Men over 50 years old should have annual rectal exams. Once they are sexually active, women should have annual pelvic exams that include rectal exams.

If you have risk factors for anal cancer, talk to your doctor about other tests, including an anal Pap test. In this test, much like the Pap test for cervical cancer, cells from the anus are removed and looked at under a microscope.

Anal Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting anal cancer is a risk factor. These include:

  • Age: Squamous cell carcinoma of the anus most often is found in people older than 50
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Having more than 10 sexual partners
  • Anal intercourse
  • Frequent anal redness, swelling and soreness
  • Tobacco smoking cessation
  • Immunosuppression, including taking immune-suppressing drugs after an organ transplant

Not everyone with risk factors gets anal cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your doctor.

Anal Cancer Prevention

Certain lifestyle choices can help prevent anal cancer. One of the most important is to avoid HPV infection. Some ways you can lower your chances of getting HPV include:

  • Wait until you are older to have sex and limit your number of sexual partners
  • Use condoms during sex
  • Don’t smoke or use other types of tobacco. Read more about MD Anderson’s smoking cessation clinical trials.
  • Avoid sex with people with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or who have had multiple sexual partners
  • Get an HPV vaccine. Gardasil® and Cervarix® help protect against certain types of HPV. But if you have HPV, they do not cure it.
  • Read more about MD Anderson’s HPV test recommendations.

Contact Us

Dr. E Borges Road, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012 India
Phone: +91-22- 24177000, 24146750 - 55
Fax: +91-22-24146937
E-mail : msoffice@tmc.gov.in (for patient care and queries) / hrd@tmc.gov.in(for administrative - HRD matters)

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