Hemorrhoids vs anal cancer: THE DIFFERENCE
Cancer of the anus is a malignant tumor that originates in the digestive tract. Uncommon, it accounts for 1 to 2% of digestive cancers. However, it has become more and more prevalent over the past 30 years.
Since it can easily be confused with other types of conditions, it is important to take stock.
Cancer of the anus is a rare form of cancer … Its symptoms are very similar to those of hemorrhoids, hence the need for medical examinations to differentiate them. Taken in time, this cancer is treated very well. Nowadays, it is even possible to prevent the cause of cancer of the anus …
What are the symptoms of anal cancer and hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the recto-anal region. They are benign but lead to bleeding during defecation, often accompanied by pain, constipation and the fast feeling of having to go to bowel movements. The anus may also appear swollen. Cancer of the anus, meanwhile, corresponds to an uncontrolled multiplication of cells in the anal canal. Problem: The tumor looks a lot like hemorrhoid and causes the same symptoms. When in doubt, the doctor makes his diagnosis through a biopsy (sample collection and analysis). If necessary, an endo-anal ultrasound helps to evaluate the progress of the tumor.
Important symptoms of anal cancer include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal itching
- A lump or mass at the anal opening
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal area
- Narrowing of stool or other changes in bowel movements
- Abnormal discharge from the anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin areas
- Most often these types of symptoms are more likely to be caused by benign (non-cancer) conditions, like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal warts. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated if needed.
Hemorrhoids or anal cancer?
Many people may confuse hemorrhoids with anal cancer since they both touch the anal wall and share some features, such as blood shedding after stool evacuation. However, hemorrhoids are characterized more in the form of itching than pain. In addition, hemorrhoids can appear and then disappear at intervals.
See more: What do hemorrhoids feel like
Pain related to anal cancer
The pain caused by cancer of the anus can also be related to other ailments, such as anal fissure. The presence of blood in the stool can also be confused with anus cancer.
People affected by this type of cancer
Like any type of cancer, anyone can be at risk for anal cancer. However, some people may be more predisposed;
- People living with HIV and HPV
- People with many sexual partners
- People practicing anal sex
Diagnosis of anal cancer
In particular, anal cancer can be diagnosed using the digital rectal examination, endoscopy ( anoscopy ) or a Pap test for women.
Depending on its location, cancer can be observed at a glance by the observation of a tumor.
Are Hemorrhoids a Warning Sign of Anal Cancer?
The main warning signs of anal cancer are rectal pain, itching, and bleeding, as well as changes in bowel movements, such as unusually narrow stools. Hemorrhoids, which are painful clusters of inflamed veins in the rectum and anus, can produce many of the same symptoms as anal cancer. While hemorrhoids are not usually a precursor to cancer – and are far more common – these symptoms should still be promptly brought to the attention of a physician, who can pinpoint the cause and provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, if necessary.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Rather than having one specific cause, hemorrhoids usually result from the interplay of several factors, which may include:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting on a toilet for a prolonged period of time
- Pregnancy (an enlarged uterus can press on nearby veins)
- A low-fiber diet
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- A common denominator of many of these factors is the potential for interference with blood circulation to the rectum and anus. As blood pools in this area, it can cause blood vessels to become enlarged and inflamed. Also, the connective tissues that provide support to veins can weaken over time, allowing the veins in the rectum and anus to bulge outward. For this reason, the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids increases with age.
We recommend reading the article: Hemorrhoids in pregnancy
Anal cancer: treatment and prevention
Cancer of the anus can be treated with radiotherapy, possibly combined with chemotherapy. This is sufficient in the majority of cases, but when the cancer of the anus is discovered late, surgical removal with the placement of an artificial anus may be necessary. It is also possible to prevent cancer of the anus to a certain extent. Indeed, the main cause of cancer of the anus is the infection with HPV 16 (Human Papillomavirus 16), transmissible during intercourse. The condom is not enough to protect itself 100% of this virus, but the vaccine against HPV, used against cancer of the cervix, offers interesting protection.
This blog post is only for discussion with a doctor. It does not necessarily represent a definite diagnosis of your condition.
That said, these types of treatment are not the only solutions. There are other alternatives to completely heal and heal hemorrhoids through totally natural means that I present in my comprehensive guide to hemorrhoids.