Anal Cancer: What Increases My Risk?

Anal Cancer Risk Factors.  You Are In Control.

Often, in the office, the doctor hears: “How can I control risks of developing anal cancer?  I thought that anal cancer just happened.”  This is not true.  Colon and rectal surgeons, also known as proctologists, tell us that there are known risk factors that are under our control.  What are these risks?  What is anal cancer?

What Is Anal Cancer?

Cancer in general, is the growth of normal tissues in an abnormal fashion.  The abnormal growth occurs because a stimulus causes cell division and cellular growth acceleration.  At some point, the growth becomes unchecked and wildly accelerated.  If untreated, these cells spread to other parts of the body.  This is known as metastasis.  Metastatic disease is a late stage finding.

In the case of anal cancer, there are warning signs.  They are:

  • An anal mass or lump
  • Anal bleeding
  • Anal discharge, such as mucus.
  • Anal pain.
  • Anal bleeding.
  • Anal itching.

What Risks Can I control?  What Risks Are Beyond My Control?

Generally, there are six groups of risks that are known to be associated with the development of anal cancer.  All except two, are under your control.

  1. Age.  Anal cancer occurs in older people.  This “risk” is not under your control.
  2. Drugs.  Certain prescription medications are known to be associated with anal cancer.  Immunosuppressants used to fight rejection in transplant patients are also known to be associated with anal cancer.  Similarly, the HIV virus suppresses the immune system.
  3. HPV (the human papilloma virus).  This association is extremely strong. This virus is known to cause anal cancer and cervical cancer in women.
  4. Smoking.  Although the exact mechanism that causes anal cancer in smokers is not understood, it is believed that carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) exert a permissive effect, allowing an anal cancer to begin to grow.
  5. Anal sex is known to increase the risk for the development of anal cancer.
  6. Likewise, multiple sexual partners is known to be a risk factor.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

If you are concerned that you have an anal condition, or even anal cancer, a confidential consultation with one of the surgeons of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates will help you find out the nature of your symptoms and will help you put your mind at ease.  If you do have a problem, the surgeons can treat all diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.

You will  be examined in a gentle manner and will have time to ask questions in order to understand your diagnosis and proposed treatment plan.  Call (310)273-2310 to schedule a visit.