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Anal Cancer

Some of the most advanced surgeries for the treatment of anal cancer.

Cancer that begins in the anus, or the opening where the intestine ends outside the body, is called anal cancer. Most cases of anal cancer are treated only with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but some may require surgery. It takes experienced surgeons to perform what are very delicate surgeries to this area. Dr. Allen Chudzinski and Dr. Haane Massarotti, the colon and rectal surgeons at DHI, can offer sphincter-sparing surgery, helping patients avoid the need for colostomy.

The anal canal is about an inch-and-a-half long. Many other benign and precancerous growths can be present in the anal canal, including skin tags, benign tumors, polyps and anal warts. A large majority of anal cancers are squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell anal cancers are almost always linked to a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Being a smoker or having a weakened immune system are also risk factors for anal cancer.

Anal Cancer Symptoms

The first symptom of anal cancer is often bleeding, but this symptom can also be caused by a more common condition such as hemorrhoids.

Besides bleeding, other symptoms of anal cancer include:

  • A lump on the anus
  • Pain, itching and/or a feeling of fullness at the anus
  • Narrow stools or other bowel movement changes
  • Unusual anal discharge
  • Swollen anal and/or groin lymph nodes

Even though these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, it is important that you see your doctor if you experience them.

Diagnosis of Anal Cancer

Some people who are at high risk for anal cancer receive routine screening for it through digital rectal and anal Pap tests. Anal cancers detected through screening are usually found in earlier stages, when they are easier to treat. However, most often anal cancer is diagnosed after a patient has experienced symptoms.

If your doctor thinks you could have anal cancer after doing a digital rectal exam, then you will likely have the following tests:

  • An endoscopic procedure such as an anoscopy. The colorectal surgeons at DHI are regional leaders in high resolution anoscopy (HRA), which allows them to view, biopsy and, in some cases, treat anal cancer.
  • Biopsy. During the high resolution anoscopy, a portion of the suspicious area will be removed so that a pathologist can look at the cell samples under a microscope to confirm that it is cancer.
  • Other imaging tests may be used to look at other parts of the body if the biopsy shows cancer is present. These imaging tests reveal if anal cancer may have spread elsewhere.

Surgery for Anal Cancer at the digestive health institute

Most cases of anal cancer are treated solely with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However if surgery is determined to be the right approach, the exact treatment procedure used will be based on the size, location and stage of the cancer.



At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

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