Hey there Guys. Today I have seen a patient who was having difficulty opening his bowels and issues with ongoing anal pain. On examination he had a large lump at the opening of his anus highly suspicious sign of anal cancer.
Today I thought it was important to talk about the symptoms of anal cancer and its higher rate of incidence within the gay male community. Early discovery can lead to early treatment with great success rates.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anal Cancer?
Anal cancers are a cancer that are found in the last 3-4 centimetres of the anal canal.
The most common symptoms of anal cancers include:
- Anal pain
- Anal bleeding
- Itch around the anus
- A lump felt at or just inside the arse
- A sensation of needing to empty the bowels but nothing coming out
- Difficulty emptying the bowels
- Discharge from the anus
Many anal cancers are caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection. Most sexually active people have been exposed to this virus however being gay and having had anal sex does increase the risk. If you have ever had anal warts there is an additional risk for developing anal cancers.
If you notice any of these symptoms it’s important to see your doctor for evaluation.
When you see your doctor they will ask you about your current symptoms as well as examining for changes to the anus.
As many anal cancers are within a finger length of the opening of the arse, a simple sweep of the finger can discover many changes.
If the exam is normal, depending on your symptoms, you may need to have review with a gastroenterologist or surgeon to view the lining of the anus with colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
Good news is that with early discovery treatment can be highly effective. I recommend getting checked on an annual basis as part of normal gay men’s health screening.
Yours in good health.