Anal cancer is a malignancy born in the anal canal, which should not be confused with rectal cancer or mistakenly taken for hemorrhoids, a benign (non-cancerous) inflammation in the terminal orifice of the digestive tract. Depending on the group of cells affected by the primary tumor, there are 3 types of anal cancer (three types of epithelia, cells that cells that line the anal canal), of which the most common is the squamous cell carcinoma. The tumor can appear as a more or less ulcerated external budding. Some cases look like a fissure, leading some patients to confuse the disease with hemorrhoids.
Anatomically, the anus is the terminal orifice of the digestive tract. Its main function is to periodically remove residues of digestion. In humans, it is located in the perineum, behind the lower part of the external genitalia; that is, in the base of the penis in men, and the vulva in women. The anus is the external opening of the anal canal and its wall consists of skin.
The anus control the expulsion of feces and gas produced from the bolus (mass of chewed food) during the digestion process. This control is possible thanks to a cylindrical muscle called sphincter.
In adults, the anal sphincter is closed most of the time, allowing the accumulation and retention of feces in the rectum. During defecation, the sphincter opens and passes the contents of the rectum through the anus (bowel movement). At birth, however, the anal sphincter opens independently of the will. Control is acquired later in infancy.
In addition to cancer and hemorrhoids, the anus can be affected by other pathologies such as:
Fecal Incontinence – this is a disease which is characterized by impromptu leakage of stoolsfrom the rectum due to the loss of muscle tone of the anal sphincter. The conditions affects mostly elderly, and can be controlled.
Anal Abscess – this condition is characterized by a collection of pus in the anal or rectal region, and it is often called anorectal abscess the fact that the causes and characteristics are often similar in the entire anal and rectal area, the difference being the location. Anal abscess is a festering and painful infection of the exodermic anal wall.
Anal Fissure – this is the appearance of an opening (due to infection) between the anal canal and the skin, following the introduction of a blunt object (colonoscopic tool, anal sexual practices: sodomy, fisting…). In some cases, the fissure can cause bleeding (hemorrhagic) if it affects the hemorrhoidal system, thus causing serious pain.
Congenital Conditions – congenital malformations, such as anorectal malformation, are other possible medical conditions of the anus. Certain congenital defects can cause absence or lack of communication between the anus and the colon. The problem can be partial or complete, lack or total absence of communication.