Anal Cancer Symptoms To Watch Out For Amid Surge In US Cases

There is a growing number of people living with anal cancer in the U.S. Researchers said that the disease is becoming one of the fastest growing causes of cancer incidence and mortality across the country.

The new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows that new cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the anus, the most common type of anal cancer, increased by 2.7 percent per year over the past 15 years. Deaths due to the disease also climbed 3.1 percent per year in the same period.

The number of diagnosed anal cancer that already spread to other parts of the body also significantly increased. That means the increase in cases is not caused by the number of people who considered screening, researchers said. 

It could be due to more people engaging in risky sexual activities in recent decades. Another factor that potentially contributed to the rise of anal cancer is the obesity epidemic, according to Ashish Deshmukh, study lead author and an assistant professor at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston. 

“The rates are increasing very rapidly,” he said at the "Today" show. “It’s concerning. Traditionally, our perception of anal cancer has been that it’s one of the rarest forms of cancer and because of that, it’s neglected.”

For the study, researchers analyzed data recorded from 2001 to 2015 in U.S. cancer registries. The team also looked at a database from the National Center for Health Statistics that monitored causes of death over the past decade. 

Within 15 years, cases of anal cancer increased to 68,809, while there were 12,111 deaths from the disease. Majority of the cases were linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), NBC News reported Wednesday.

Among the affected people, white men and white women born after 1960 appeared with the highest risk of anal cancer. Researchers said older adults could easily contract HPV due to weaker immune system.

The risk also increased five times among black men born in the mid-1980s. It could be because of the higher number of young black men exposed to HIV, which contributes to anal cancer, Deshmukh added.

Symptoms Of Anal Cancer

Early detection of the disease could help improve patient care and treatment. Estimates show that over 80 percent of patients who discovered their anal cancer before it spread to other parts of the body were able to live for five more years after diagnosis. 

Early symptoms of the disease include:

  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum
  • Pain or pressure around the anus
  • Itching 
  • Unusual discharge
  • A lump near the anus
  • A change in bowel movements, like narrowing of stools

Man A new study shows that the risk of having anal cancer increased five times in black men over the past 15 years in the U.S. Pixabay