If I had the power to remove only one thing in the world, it would be cancer. It can affect an individual and a family. Not only does it take a loved one away but it also causes a lot of financial, emotional, and psychological struggles to the people and parties involved.
However, no matter how much we want to eradicate this terminal illness, it’s just really inevitable that someone gets the illness each day. At least 4,700 people receive cancer diagnoses each day according to the American Cancer Society. This news is very saddening because, given the facts and figures, it seems like we are still far from eliminating the illness.
But not to worry because despite it being possible to happen to anyone, there are many ways to reduce the risks of getting the said disease.
Introducing Anal Cancer
Generally, most people know that cancer is a deadly disease. However, what many people don’t know is that there are many types and kinds of cancer. The term “cancer” is just somewhat an umbrella term given to a group of related diseases since it can affect cells of varying organs.
One of the least known types of cancer is anal cancer. Anal cancer is basically when existing cancer cells transform into benign or malignant tumors situated in the anus. It can be very dangerous because the anus is a regularly used body part needed to excrete body wastes such as stool from the body.
The sad thing about anal cancer is that no one talks about it. There is a stigma that goes with the illness since it is commonly sexually transmitted, but that’s not always the case. Thus, it’s essential to make the disease known to break the stigma.
Causes & Symptoms
Many anal cancer patients learned about their disease at a very critical stage already. In some cases, even if the person is healthy and generally well, they may still acquire the said disease. Given this, it’s essential to be on the lookout for possible symptoms to lessen the risks of getting the disease.
Anal cancer is known to be caused by HPV or human papillomavirus which is passed on through sexual intercourse. However, besides sexual intercourse, this can also be caused by unsafe anal sex, old age, smoking, and other abnormal openings in the anal area.
“Symptom management is critical during the entire process of discovery, diagnosis, and treatment phases for the anal cancer patient.” says Thomas R Dekoj, MD.
For the common symptoms, these may include:
- Bleeding of anus
- Constant itchiness or irritation in the anus
- A lump in the anus or rectal opening
- Vast changes in bowel movement
- Unusual discharge (besides blood) from the anus
- Painful feeling in the anal area
Once you feel any of the said or related symptoms, make sure to consult with a doctor immediately to have it checked and lessen the risks of it progressing.
“Surgical treatment has been relegated to cases of persistent or recurrent disease, or when a patient has a contraindication to chemotherapy or radiation.” says Deborah Nagle, M.D.
In treating anal cancer, we have to consider many factors. The doctors still have to assess where the lump is situated in, the type and stage of the disease, as well as the tumor size and impact. In looking into these factors, the medical team assigned to you can point out which treatment is the best and most effective for your condition.
Possible treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
- Use of radiosensitizers
These are viable options for different cases, and it is up to your doctors to decide which one will suit you best.
Prevention Is Key
However, just like any illness, before it comes to the worst case scenario, there are several ways to prevent it and keep you from other possible dangers. Besides being educated, it’s essential to take effort in staying protected and healthy to keep yourself away from acquiring the disease.
With this, here are a few prevention tips to lessen the risks of getting anal cancer:
Since we have discussed that human papillomavirus or HPV can cause anal cancer, scientists have developed a vaccine for it. These vaccines can protect you from HPV infections that can vary depending on the subtype. However, we have to keep in mind that this vaccine works best before acquiring the disease. So if you’re planning to get sexually active any time soon, better to have yourself vaccinated now than to regret anything in the future.
- Protected Sex
One way to have protected sex is through condom use. Although it does not entirely protect you from getting the infection, it can still reduce the risks of doing so.
- Avoid Smoking
Not only sexually active people can get anal cancer. The disease can also affect smokers. To minimize the possibility of contracting anal cancer and other types of cancer, refrain from smoking.
Join Support Groups
Living with anal cancer is not easy, but know that you’re not alone. If it’s too late, you can get extra support and help from families who are going through the same by joining anal cancer foundations. In doing so, you can help yourself, or a loved one who is going through this struggle. Have a little hope that nothing is impossible with the higher beings.
Always remember that protection and prevention can help save a life. Tell us about your cancer concerns today.
“Individuals can do much to prevent cancer. Yet human biology – particularly the pleasure principle – and large, politically powerful industrial forces stand arrayed against us. Saving money and lives may be most effectively accomplished by changing the economic incentives of food and energy production,” says Matthew J. Edlund M.D.