Anal cancer: Itchy anus could be an early sign of rare cancer

An itchy bum could be caused by different things one of them being anal cancer.

Anal cancer may not be in the 20 most common cancers in the UK, but at least 1,500 people are still diagnosed with this rare tumour every year, according to Cancer Research, UK. If detected early, anal cancer can be treated with over 60% survival rate. It’s why you need to pain attention to one of the common symptoms it presents.

Anal cancer and itching

According to WebMD, anal cancer is mostly diagnosed in people above the age of 60 — in women more than in men. Some people with the disease do not experience any symptoms while others report signs similar to haemorrhoids and fissures.

Two common symptoms though are anal bleeding and itching which are often treated as haemorrhoids, leading to a delay in diagnosing the disease. An article published in The Mirror, lists these other symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure in the anal area
  • Unusual discharges from the anus
  • Lump near the anus
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Incontinence of stool (loss of bowel control)
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Getty/ Peter Dazeley

Causes and diagnoses

Per the National Health Service, NHS, it is important to get checked by a doctor when you experience any of the above, especially itching around the rectal opening.

Most cases of itchy bottom aren't caused by cancer, but it's important that your GP rules out all possibilities

It can be detected during a routine digital rectal exam or a procedure to remove what you may have suspected to be haemorrhoids. Invasive procedures like anoscopy, proctoscopy, or endorectal ultrasound could also reveal the presence of the tumour.

The disease is strongly linked to anal intercourse in all genders, with the risk increasing if one partner is infected with human papillomavirus resulting in genital warts. WebMD says.

Immunocompromised patients, such as those with HIV disease, are prone to get anal cancer. In this subgroup, the prognosis is worse than for non-immunocompromised patients.

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