Staging is the process of describing the extent or progression of the disease. In solid tumors like anal cancer, staging is important in determining the treatment plan, monitoring the patient’s response to the treatment and to assess its prognosis.
The most commonly known staging system utilized today is the TNM (Tumor/Node/Metastasis) System, established by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). It assesses tumors based on the size or extent of primary tumor (T), the absence or presence of lymph nodes involvement (N) and the absence or presence of metastasis or spread of cancer cells to distant parts of the body.
Interpreting The Meanings
As described by The American Cancer Society, each factor is numbered from 0-4 or the letter X representing the severity of the condition. For example, in primary tumor, Tx is used, and this means a primary tumor cannot be assessed; T0 means no evidence of primary tumor; Tis reading would mean that the cancer is only in the mucosa or top layer of cells lining the anus; T1 the tumor is 2cm in dimension; T2 means the tumor is more than 2cm but not more than 5cm; T3 is a tumor that is larger than 5cm; and T4 where the tumor is any size and is growing into nearby organs.
For the lymph nodes involvement, the following are used:
- NX – Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed
- N0 – No regional lymph nodes metastasis
- N1 – Involvement in perirectal lymph nodes
- N2 – Involvement in unilateral internal iliac and inguinal lymph nodes
- N3 – Metastasis in perirectal and inguinal lymph nodes and bilateral internal iliac and inguinal lymph nodes.
Lastly, for the metastasis, there are only two categories involved:
- M0 – For no distant metastasis
- M1 – With distant metastasis.
After TNM scores have been assigned, it is then grouped into stages. It ranges from stage I to IV, Stage I being the early stage and IV being the advanced stage.
Stages Of Anal Cancer
According to AJCC system effective January 2018, the following are the staging of anal cancer (Source: American Joint Committee on Cancer).
Stage 0 – Tis, N0, M0. The cancer is only in the mucosa, no lymph nodes and metastasis involve.
Stage I – T1, N0, M0. The tumor size is merely 2cm, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites.
Stage IIA – T2, N0, M0. The tumor can range from 2cm, but not more than 5cm has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites.
Stage IIB – T3, N0, M0. The tumor is larger than 5cm but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites.
Stage IIIA – T1, N1, M0. The tumor is 2 cm, has spread to lymph nodes near the rectum but no distant sites involve. Another interpretation is T2, N1, M0 which means the tumor is more than 2cm but not more than 5cm in greatest dimension, has spread to lymph nodes near the rectum but no metastasis.
Stage IIIB – T4, N0, M0. At this stage, the tumor is of any size and is growing into nearby organs such as vagina, urethra, prostate gland or bladder, but no lymph nodes or metastasis involve.
Stage IIIC – T3, N1, M0. The tumor is larger than 5cm, has spread to lymph nodes but no metastasis) or T4, N1, M0 wherein the tumor is any size and growing into nearby organs, has spread to lymph nodes but no metastasis.
Stage IV. This is when any T, any N, M1 tumor can be any size may or may not grow into nearby organs or spread to nearby lymph nodes and it has spread to distant organs such as liver or lungs.
Helping Through The Stages
Getting a diagnosis of cancer can be a life-altering situation. There is no degree of putting the icing on the cake when cancer is the main topic. Relationship problems can occur as deterioration of physical and psychological dimension progress. Family members and significant others should be there with the person when this happens. A person diagnosed with cancer needs all the love and support they can need during this ordeal. Whatever stage they are in, continuous physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual support is highly encouraged.
Anal cancer and its treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery may affect the patient in a variety of ways. It can change not only the physical but also functional, social and psychological aspects of a patient’s quality of life as well as their families. They need total support from the time of the diagnosis, course of treatment, and long-term monitoring or follow up after. The following are some effects of cancer that need to be addressed accordingly.
Cancer May Affect Patients’ Nutritional Status. They may experience poor appetite since they are emotionally-stressed about their illness, from the effects of treatment regimen like nausea and vomiting and diarrhea, and the extent of their disease that may affect the metabolism of essential nutrients needed by our body. Dieticians or nurses providing direct care can provide nutritional education and counseling to the patient and family. The family should be involved as part of the team as they can afford psychosocial support towards patients’ dietary practices. Medications like appetite stimulants and vitamins as prescribed can help.
“While the emotional, practical, social, and spiritual impact of cancer is often in the form of distress, many people are positively affected by cancer. As patients and/or family members experience this positive influence on their lives, it is often something they talk with our therapists about to make sense of for themselves.” says Cheyenne Corbett, PhD, LMFT
Impaired Skin Integrity Problems. Skin integrity of anal cancer patients especially with a wound or after surgery like abdominoperineal resections with permanent colostomy needs to appropriate care. Stoma care nurses can provide education about colostomy care and help patients adapt to having a colostomy. Patients receiving radiation can experience skin changes during or after treatment. Training regarding skin care by keeping the affected clean and well hydrated and protection for the further injury like avoidance of constrictive clothing and exposure to sunlight should be provided.
Infection. Neutropenia is one of the most common side effects on cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. It is a condition in which there is a marked decreased of circulating neutrophils, our first line of defense against infection. Hand washing is one of the critical intervention to prevent infection. Maintaining personal hygiene, proper oral care, safe food handling and limiting visitors are some precautionary measures also. Oral antibiotics are given as prophylaxis in neutropenic patients, and once infection has been established, antimicrobial treatment should be started immediately.
Sexual Practices. The sexual problem also arises in anal cancer patients. Some lose interest in sex at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and post-treatment. This might be due to the physical or emotional effect of cancer. The patient can seek help from doctors or do counseling on how to cope and improve the sexual relationship.
Psychological Effects. Patient diagnosed with anal cancer also needs psychosocial care as well as their families. A cancer diagnosis can create stressful feelings for the patient and their family. It demands individual and entire family positive outlook and active involvement on how to cope with the illness. Extended support from community, friends or groups like cancer society people that can provide emotional support, is a big help.
“There are so many things that cancer patients need to communicate to their loved ones. These range from sharing the diagnosis, what the treatment will look like, specifics about how the treatment is affecting them, where they need help, where/when they need privacy, financial decisions, end-of-life planning and decision making, etc.” says June C. Foss, LMFT.
Cancer is one of the leading cause of death worldwide. But remember that fighting cancer is not an individual battle. It needs support that involves a multidisciplinary team with the same end in providing a good quality of life for all cancer patients. “Many cancers can be prevented and regress if carbohydrate intake is restricted.” says Jack C Westman M.D.
As its name suggests, anal cancer manifests in the person’s anus. Sometimes anal cancer doesn’t show any symptoms at all, but the first symptom is usually bleeding. This bleeding is mostly minor, and people assume hemorrhoids cause this.
Eventually, bleeding will give way to other more worrisome warning signs such as anal itching, a nodule or mass at the opening of the anus, pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal area, ribbon-like stool or other changes in bowel movements, abnormal secretions from the anus, and enlarged lymph nodes in the groin areas.
Helping Someone With Cancer
If you know someone who is in this medical state, it is best to provide supportive counseling and help them go through the whole ordeal. You can help the person consider different treatment options ranging from the aggressive to alternative modalities. Modern medicine has birthed different types of medicinal and surgical interventions which aim to reduce the mortalities and morbidities associated with anal cancer. As a support system, your role is only to offer reliable information, but the health decision will remain solely in the patient’s prerogative.
For preventive purposes and relief of symptoms, the following plant products have scientifically proven their positive results in cancer treatments. You can refer this information to someone who is at high risk of developing cancer or those who are already diagnosed as having one. It is important to remember that this will not replace the traditional treatment and should not be considered as the primary intervention. Always advise to consult the oncologist or treating doctor if this method is utilized.
Onions And Garlic
Onions and garlic have intense flavors that can leave an after-taste in your mouth, but you may want to reevaluate when you realize onions and garlic are nature’s weapons against cancer.
These two common household cooking ingredients are laden with manganese, vitamin B6, allicin, sulfuric compounds, vitamin C, copper, and selenium which stimulate the body’s production of glutathione, a potent antioxidant for the liver. This naturally-occurring chemical boosts the body’s detoxification process (Bollinger, 2018).
Onion alone is packed with large quantities of quercetin, another antioxidant which reduces the malignant cells present in the rectum. Hence, including it in your diet may reduce the size and number of cancerous cells.
One study showed an increased daily consumption of onions and garlic led to significantly reduced chances of the development of laryngeal colorectal, and ovarian cancers.
It is best known as a crucial ingredient for curry dishes, but soon, we will all be looking at turmeric both for its culinary and therapeutic benefits.
Curcumin is the active component in the plant and has been shown to prevent several forms of cancer including breast, stomach, liver, lung, and colon through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin inhibits the development of cancer by interfering with the communication between malignant cells.
A study showed colorectal patients could take as much as 3.6 grams of pure curcumin without any ill effects. Curcumin isn’t well-absorbed in the bloodstream, but it is well-absorbed in the colon lining which gives it an advantage against cancerous tissues developing in the colon and the anus.
The carrot is more than just a bright orange addition to different dishes. Carrots are rich with essential and beneficial nutrients including vitamins A, C, K, folate, and choline. With this abundance of vitamins and minerals, carrots provide an anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and immune-enhancing properties.
Specifically, carrots contain carotenoids – healthy antioxidants which neutralize free radicals in the human body. When the body has enough carotenoids, DNA damage is reduced therefore preventing the manifestation of different forms of cancer.
When you have rectal cancer, your bowel movements will be severely affected because of pain in the stomach and the rectal area. To overcome this, bananas – a food source rich in fiber – are highly recommended. The downside of eating bananas is that it can lead to constipation if too much intake is allowed. Straining during defecation can create injury in the anal area, and this should be prevented from happening. Eat bananas sparingly and only if you are not constipated for the time being. Other than this, it is safe to consume at least two bananas per day.
Whether you decide to nick anal cancer in the hospital or supplement your treatment with home remedies, what matters most is for you to be active and take charge of your health!
Bollinger, T. 2018, The Benefits of Onions and Garlic: Nature’s Weapons against Cancer, The Truth About Cancer. Viewed 17 May 2018, <https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/benefits-onions-garlic-natures-weapons-cancer-2/>.
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.
Individuals who are diagnosed with anal cancer often find themselves facing stress and worry. According to licensed clinical psychologist and geropsychology specialist Carol Spar, PsyD, “A stressful situation is one that is both unpleasant and, for the moment, inescapable.” They fear the end-of-life issues thrown directly at them because of the said diagnosis. Because of this, the struggle to keep their mind and emotions together often leads to anxiety and depression. According to Scott Bea, PsyD, “Anxiety is really a reaction in our body and brain that can be a feeling of worry, apprehension, sometimes excitement in anticipation of an event or in the face of uncertainties.”
Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer and Anal Cancer are types of cancer that are often interchanged. But medical experts are very particular in its definition and these three are not the same at all. Colon Cancer is different from Rectal Cancer and Anal Cancer. To be sure of what these cancers are really all about, this article will define each and briefly provide some facts as well as the importance of support, both personal & professional with online therapy.
Anal cancer develops in the anus. Anal cancer is not to be mistaken for colorectal cancer which is much more common. The anus is the end part of the large intestines which is usually about four centimeters long. This is where the solid wastes come out from the body. Anal cancer is very rare, and it occurs mostly to women than men. Abnormal changes that occur in the anus are oftentimes harmless in the early stages but may eventually develop into cancer. According to Cheyenne Corbett, LMFT, “Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are a rare breed in cancer care settings. However, their skill set lends itself perfectly to working within this environment.”
No one ever wants to hear the word cancer from their doctor and yet it’s one of the most common illnesses affecting millions today. Cancer is a tricky condition because there are lots of forms and sometimes you honestly think you’re healthy when, in reality, there is something wrong. When you suspect there is something wrong and go to the doctor, you need to be prepared for the tests that may come. Read on to find out a little more about cancer and what you might face.
When there is a lump or unusual tissue on the body, doctors may decide it looks serious enough to get it checked. Now, for women, breast screening can often be a simple task. If a woman finds a lump on her breast or even under her armpit and the doctor believes it needs to be checked out further, they will understand what it is better with a scan. Cancer has specialized screenings and scans that can focus in on the lump and doctors can determine if it’s a cancerous growth. If that is the case, further tests may be conducted.
Colon cancer is something which very few people think about or are aware of. The truth is cancer can come in a variety of forms and it can affect the body in so many ways. It’s important that you’re able to spot the signs quickly enough so that action can be taken, get help with cancer, and hopefully overcome the illness. Unfortunately for most, they do not know the warning signs of colon cancer so it’s might be best to be aware of them. Read on to find out the early warning signs of colon cancer.
A Rapid Loss of Weight
Have you been losing weight recently? Have you been on a diet and, if so, how much weight have you lost exactly? First and foremost, if you start to notice a change in your weight, you need to keep a very close eye on it. Even when you have been exercising, you shouldn’t be losing weight at a rapid speed as it’s not good. There might be a serious problem somewhere and, in truth, it is an early warning sign of colon cancer. It’s important to keep an eye on your weight until you can get an appointment with a doctor and note, if you can, how much weight you’ve lost.