Within the UK around 1,200 people develop anal cancer each year. Anal cancer is slightly more common in women than men.
Risk factors for anal cancer include:
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – a common virus passed on through sexual contact
- lowered immunity
- sexual activity – multiple sexual partners and anal sex
- age – greater risk after the age of 50
- Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN) – a condition which affects the skin around the anus. The severity of the condition is graded from I to III, with III being the most severe. AIN is important because some cases of AIN III can go on to develop into an anal cancer.
Please note that if you have one or more of the above risk factors it does not mean that you will get cancer.
For further information about each of these risk factors
Macmillan Cancer Support
Symptoms of anal cancer include:
- bleeding from the anus
- pain, discomfort and itching around the anus
- small lumps around the anus – may be confused with piles
- discharge of mucus from the anus
- ulcers around the anus
- difficulty controlling leakage from the bowel
If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, always visit your GP. There is no need to be embarrassed, they are used to seeing patients who have bowel problems.
These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than anal cancer. It is possible for anal cancer to occur without symptoms.
If you have symptoms that you are worried may be cancer, it is important to still seek advice from your GP surgery. Your symptoms do not mean you have cancer and could be caused by a number of common conditions but it is always best to get checked.