Palliative Care For Colorectal Cancer Patients

Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Source: orlandogidoc.com

The emergence of colorectal cancer as one of the most serious diseases in the world is highly notable. Here is a condition that occurs in the lower part of the large intestine. Abnormal cells tend to proliferate rapidly around the area. When screened a bit late, the disorder can immediately turn deadly.

 

Colorectal cancer is typically associated with another grave malady that inhibits the rectum which is just a few inches down the intestine. It is around the age of 50 that you will usually acquire either forms of the disease. If detected, you will be subjected to surgery and chemotherapy to manage and control the progression of the illness.

Understanding Palliative Care

Source: ww2.kqed.org

Coping up with colorectal cancer is not merely about medications and surgical procedures. Doctors will put you under palliative care. This is a specialized approach given to individuals with serious maladies. The focus of this method is to improve the quality of your life. You will undergo a de-stressing process where corresponding symptoms and complications of the cancer will be managed considerably.

 

Palliative care is all about extra care and comfort. Physicians, nurses and other medical personnel concerned will make sure that you will be given support that goes beyond the usual treatment procedures. This means that moral, emotional and psychological mechanisms will be integrated to the overall curative course of action.

 

The challenges of colorectal cancer go beyond the progression of the disease inside your body. The impact can be overwhelming which means that such effects can be devastating to your total psyche. This is where the extra layer of attention comes in.

 

Treating Colorectal Cancer Symptoms-How Palliative Care Can Help

 

Once determined, the treatment approach to control colorectal cancer is swift. Surgery is initially the common step to counter the disease. Usually, you will experience extreme pain within the site being operated on. What is even more troubling is the impact of conventional colorectal cancer remedy. Disturbances to your bowel movements are a major cause of concern considering that waste elimination will be affected.

 

Almost always, the process of emptying your bowel will be blocked. This can lead to further complications like re-directing the waste disposal exit in other parts of your body. Within this context, how you excrete your body trash can jolt you psychologically due to physical alterations in your system.

The inclusion of chemotherapy in your recovery approach is about limiting the spread of cancer cells. 

 

Although helpful, the effects can also be troubling. You will feel nauseous, weak and extremely tired. You will also experience hair loss, anemia, diarrhea and nerve pains. Radiation can also cause adverse reactions including infertility and sexual problems.

 

If you are experiencing abdominal pain coupled by changes in bowel movement plus abrupt weight loss, it is highly likely that colorectal cancer has set in. Finding blood on your stool will strongly suggest the progression of the disease.

 

The introduction of palliative care will lessen the perilous impact of your malady. Doctors will focus on specifically managing your symptoms. Proper diet and nutrition will be instituted. Notable medical therapies include adequate fluid intake and electrolyte balance to lessen the impact of the disease’s indications.

 

It is also possible to alleviate your mental anguish by talking to someone. Specialists, therapists and counselors are available for an anonymous chat session with you should you need help – https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/chat/pros-and-cons-of-an-anonymous-chat-room/.

How to Get Palliative Care

Source: uclan.ac.uk

If you or a loved one is experiencing colorectal cancer symptoms, never delay undergoing the corresponding tests. In addition, request for palliative care from your attending physician.

 

Anal Cancer: What’s Your Risk

                      Source: roswellpark.org

Risk factors are a tricky thing to determine.  Sometimes, it seems when we look at a list of risk factors, we wonder how everyone in the world hasn’t been diagnosed with every disease imaginable.  However, there may come a time where you are looking for risk factors. One of the reasons that you might want to know your risk for anal cancer is if a loved one has recently been diagnosed with anal cancer.  Not all risks are the same for every type of cancer. There are some factors that you can look at and do something about. For example, an individual can quit smoking. However, there are some that you can’t change, such as your age or gender.  There are many things that can put you at a higher risk of anal cancer. It is important to understand that just because you have a risk, or even if you have all the risks, it doesn’t mean that you will develop anal cancer. Others can have none of the risks and still develop the disease.  Risk factors simply mean that individuals are more likely to get a prognosis. Here are some of the most common risk factors for Anal Cancer.

Other Cancers

If you are a woman and you have had cancer in your vulva, cervix, your vagina, then you are at an increased risk for anal cancer.  These cancers have some similar risk factors with anal cancer. For example, all of them can be caused by HPV. Many individuals think that penile cancer for men equals a higher risk for anal cancer.  It is important to note that there have been no studies to prove this theory.  

Sex    

        Source: independent.co.uk

We’re all grown here.  Hopefully, you have had the sex talk at some point of your life and you know the importance of wearing protection.  In case you have never had the talk, know that it is important to wear protection. When you have more than one sex partner, it comes with an increased risk for anal cancer.  It is important to know that if you have receptive intercourse, your chances of being diagnosed with anal cancer is increased. This is true for both women and men. This is especially true for individuals that are under the age of thirty.  

Immune System

Anytime that you have reduced immunity, you have a higher risk of anal cancer.  Studies have shown that anal cancer occurs more frequently in individuals that have reduced immunity.  This means individuals that have had organ transplants, AIDS or are currently taking medications that are meant to suppress the immune system.  Individuals that have a diagnosis of HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, are at a higher risk than individuals without the virus. HIV is the virus responsible for AIDS.  

Smoking

                          Source: abc13.com                                     

Smokers get really irritated at hearing all the things that smoking can cause.  Smoking puts you seven times more at risk of having anal cancer than nonsmokers.  Individuals that quit smoking seem to have a lower risk rate. In fact, individuals that have quit smoking but smoked in the past seem to only be slightly more at risk than individuals who never smoked.  Smoking can cause several different types of cancer.

HPV

HPV is also a risk for anal cancer. HPV is the virus that is responsible for cervical cancer.  Women that have had cervical cancer are at a higher risk of anal cancer. There are two main factors that influence the risk of men getting genital HPV infections.  These factors are a circumcision and how many sexual partners the man have had. When a man is circumcised, it reduces the risk for HPV. This can help reduce the risk for anal cancer.  On the other hand, have a lot of sexual partners can increase the risk for HPV; thus, increasing the risk of anal cancer.

HPV infections typically occur in women who are under the age of thirty.  Women are also at a higher risk of getting HPV by engaging in specific sexual behaviors.  These include having numerous sexual partners and engaging in sexual activity at a young age.  Doing these things increase the risk of anal cancer in women. 

 

References

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anal-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20233221

http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/anal-cancer/risk-factors-and-prevention

https://www.analcancerfoundation.org/living-with-anal-cancer/anal-cancer-risk-factors-causes/

http://www.cancercenter.com/anal-cancer/risk-factors/

 

Types of Therapies Commonly Used for Treating Anal Cancer

                          Source: healthline.com               

When diagnosed with cancer, there are a number of treatment options available.  Surgery, therapies, and medicines are typically used in order to treat the cancer.  Depending on the stage of anal cancer you are experiencing, the way that the cancer is treated will vary.  There are two common types of therapy used when treating anal cancer. These therapies are known as Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy.  It is important to note that, while these therapies are commonly used in combination with one another, they do vary in a number of ways. Here is a bit of information about each one.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy x-rays in order to destroy the cancer cells.  There are times that other particles containing high energy will be used. Typically, you will receive this type of therapy from a professional doctor that specializes in providing this type of treatment for cancer.  This doctor is known as a radiation oncologist.

                  Source: health.usnews.com

External-beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation treatment that is used to treat cancer.  This type of therapy uses a machine on the outside of the body in order to give the treatment. Internal radiation therapy is another type of radiation therapy that utilizes implants in order to give treatment.

The schedule for radiation therapy typically consists of how many treatments will occur over a specified period of time.  Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often combined in order to treat anal cancer. Patients normally undergo five to six weeks of radiation therapy.  They undergo the treatment every day, five days a week. In the event that the patient’s skin becomes irritated from the treatment, the doctor will sometimes give the patient a break for a few days.

Low doses of radiation therapy are sometimes used for patients diagnosed with both HIV and anal cancer.  The amount of radiation therapy provides depends on the extent HIV has on the patient’s immune system.

There are side effects involved when undergoing radiation therapy.  These side effects are skin reactions, fatigue, loose bowel movements, anal irritation, upset stomach, and discomfort during bowel movements.  It is not unusual for scar tissue to form as a result of the damage done to the anal tissue. This can disrupt bowel function. Side effects typically subside once treatment is finished.  It is important that you discuss what to expect with your doctor before treatment and talk about ways you can minimize the symptoms.

 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, unlike Radiation therapy, utilizes drugs in order to destroy the cancer cells.  The goal is to prevent the ability of the cancer cells to grow and spread. A medical oncologist gives chemotherapy therapy to patients.  An Oncologist is a doctor that specializes in treating cancer.

      Source: wiki.expertchikitsa.com

When a patient receives systematic chemotherapy, it allows the drugs to get into the patient’s bloodstream in order to reach cancer cells in the patient’s body.  There are a few different ways that Chemotherapy can be administered in order to treat anal cancer therapy to patients. An Oncologist is a doctor that specializes in treating cancer.

When a patient receives systematic chemotherapy, it allows the drugs to get into the patient’s bloodstream in order to reach cancer cells in the patient’s body.  There are a few different ways that Chemotherapy can be administered in order to treat anal cancer. The most common ways that Chemo is administered through an IV, a needle, or through pills/capsules.  The schedule for Chemotherapy treatment is based on how many treatments need to be received within a predetermined period of time. There are times that the patient may receive only one drug at a time and other times that drugs are given in combination.

When treating anal cancer, a combination of drugs is typically given.  The most common drugs that are used are mitomycin C or cisplatin combined with fluorouracil.  Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy provide the most success when combined and received in combination with one another.  Patients that have HIV may require lower doses of treatment depending on the patient’s immune system.

Side effects associated with Chemotherapy depend on the dose that is administered.  Side effects can include low blood counts, fatigue, nausea, infection, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss.  Once treatment is completed, the side effects typically cease.  

 

References:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/anal-cancer/treating/chemotherapy.html

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/anal-cancer/treating/radiation-therapy.html

http://www.cancernetwork.com/colorectal-cancer/intensity-modulated-radiation-therapy-anal-cancer-toxicity-versus-outcomes

http://www.curetoday.com/publications/cure/2013/spring2013/combining-radiation-and-chemotherapy-may-improve-outcomes

 

Depression In Anal Cancer Patients

Source: express.co.uk

Angela has a loving husband named Phil and he has been with her through thick and thin for the last 25 years. They have a daughter aged 23 who is married now and a grandchild is on the way. The couple were very happy with their lives, fulfilled in their careers and has a strong family bond. Angela is a cancer survivor – breast cancer, to be exact – and she has been cancer-free for the last 15 years.

 

They live healthy lives. Both work out and eat nutritious meals most of the time. Of course, there are occasional treats like wine and sugary foods, but they always try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

 

It was quite a shock last year for Angela when during her regular yearly check-up, it was discovered that she has cancer again. This time, it was anal cancer. Since she was a cancer survivor, Angela was hopeful that she’d beat this again, but it was really a tough undertaking and right now, she is suffering from bouts of depression.

 

When the cancer will crush you from the inside out…

Source: express.co.uk

Angela’s anal cancer is inoperable, meaning it is terminal and only time will tell as to how long she has left in this world. It is very devastating, to say the least, for Angela and the whole family. She has survived cancer at a young age and now, she has cancer again? And this time, she can’t survive it? This is really taking a toll on her mental health as well as her physical health – the symptoms and the pains are getting deeper and more excruciating because of the fact that she won’t make it out alive. 

 

If you are swimming in a pool of lemon juice, find that small seed of hope where you can hold on.

 

After all the crying and the “why-did-this-happen-to-me-I’m-dying” talks, Angela’s husband Phil asked her for a favor. He wanted Angela to let go of her anger and just accept the reality that this is the will of God and how it’s going to be. Phil is a very strong man, but the thought of losing his wife is gut-wrenching. He understood that Angela may have a few years left and he wanted those last few years to be filled with love and happiness. 

 

The whole family went into therapy.

Source: relatefamilytherapy.com

Phil decided that they must make it through as a family and so all of them, Phil, Angela, their daughter Kim and Kim’s husband, spoke with a therapist twice a week as a group. They too have their individual counseling sessions just to get through the day without having to be depressed and angry all the time. Is it working? At times, yes. Angela is more receptive now and even with her condition, she tries to find it in herself to be the mother and the wife she must be for Kim and Phil. She was also prescribed anti-depressants to regulate her hormonal surge.

 

What about her physical symptoms?

 

Angela has tumors in her anus and is constantly looking for trial programs on anal cancer. She was also subjected to some surgical procedures, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It is very hard for her to sit down for a long period or do the things she normally does. There are days when she is optimistic, but sometimes, she would say “I am at the end of my rope!”. It is truly a struggle for Angela and her bowel movements are always painful. Holding on to the idea that she still has some time left to spend with Phil and Kim makes her depressive moods dissipate. Her will to live is strong if she can manage her depression.

Colon, Rectal, And Anal Cancers

Source: beatingbowelcancer.org

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.

 

Colorectal Cancer or CRC

 

This medical term can be used for both colon and rectal cancers, but there is a distinction. Colon Cancer starts at the colon, whereas, Rectal Cancer begins at the rectum. These are two very different parts of the body, but both are within the digestive system tract, specifically in the large intestines. 

 

The large intestine is basically made up of the colon with four sections – the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. The rectum, on the other hand, is after the colon. It is only 6 inches in length and the waste of the body passes through that canal. The opening of the rectum is the anus.

 

Now, if the cancer forms in the ascending, transverse, descending or sigmoid colon sections, then clearly, it is Colon Cancer. If it is within the last 6 inches of the large intestines, then, it is Rectal Cancer. But then again, both can be called Colorectal Cancers since the colon and rectum are connected. 

 

Early stages of Colorectal Cancer

Source: oncologynews.com

In its early stages, CRC may pose symptoms like stomach aches and bloating which can be misdiagnosed as ulcer or disease of the gall bladder. Some bleeding of the rectum may occur while releasing bowels. It can also be mistaken as hemorrhoids. That’s why you need to be aggressive and don’t take symptoms for granted. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, sudden weight loss, and abdominal tumors are also some of the signs of Colorectal Cancer. 

 

Testing for CRC

 

Some of the tests performed to determine Colorectal Cancer are as follows:

 

  • Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT)
  • Stool DNA testing (sDNA)
  • Digital rectal examination
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy (optical and virtual)
  • Barium enemas

 

It is advisable that once a person reaches the ages of 50, they must subject themselves to these physical exams to prevent or treat early signs of Colorectal Cancer.

 

Anal Cancer

 

Anal Cancer or Anal Canal Carcinoma is a type of cancer that spreads on the anal tissues. The problem with this type of cancer is that it can be mistaken as hemorrhoids and so, doctors initially pass it off as such. Rectal bleeding and lumps on the anus area are its common symptoms. It may be too late when you discover that the cancer is malignant. Therefore, you must be vigilant when your anus bleeds and ask your doctor to have it checked for Anal Cancer, just to be sure. 

 

So, Colon Cancer manifests on the colon, Rectal Cancer develops in the rectum and Anal Cancer progresses on anal tissues. Colorectal Cancer can be Colon or Rectal Cancer, but not Anal Cancer. Here’s to hoping that you understand everything correctly.

 

Treatments and Therapy

Source: anxiety.org

The most common treatment for Colorectal and Anal Cancers is chemotherapy. There are other programs to treat these cancers and it includes surgery, radiation therapy, and other options. Specialists like a Radiation Oncologist will know how to proceed and help those with Colorectal and Anal Cancers. 

 

During this trying time, a person with cancer will also need emotional support and healing. He or she can speak with a counselor to ease the worries. Online therapy at BetterHelp is one viable solution for that.

 

What are the Different Stages of Anal Cancer

Blog: analcancersite.com

Cancer stages are a process that doctor’s used in order to describe the spread of a patent’s cancer.  Doctor’s evaluate and compare cancerous cells to healthy cells in order to determine the grade of cancer a patient is facing and to determine the stage of cancer.  

Staging is used in order to describe the location of the cancer, the parts of the body that it has spread to, and if it is affecting various other parts located in the body.  Diagnostic testing is used by doctors in order to determine the cancer’s stage. The process of determining the stage of cancer that a patient is facing may not be complete until after all necessary tests have been completed.  Determining the stage of cancer that a patient is facing assists the doctor in determine what type of treatment is best and assists in determining a prognosis (or chance of survival) for the patient. There are numerous stages for each individual type of cancer.

The System

Source: colorectal-cancer.ca

Doctor’s utilize the TNM staging system in order to describe the stage of anal cancer that a patient is facing.Diagnostic test results and scans are used in order to determine how large the tumor is, where the tumor is located, if the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes and the extent of the spread, and whether or not the cancer has metastasized and to what extent.

Results are combined in order to determine what stage of cancer an individual is facing.  There are five cancers of anal stages. Stages are simply a way to describe the cancer so that treatment options can be explored.

Tumor – T

Source: aboutcancer.com

The T is used in combination with a letter or number in order to tell how large the tumor is and where the tumor is located.  There are stages that are divided into smaller groups so that the tumor can be described in more detail.  

TX is when an evaluation of the tumor cannot be completed.  T0 is when a tumor does not exist. Tis is when the tumor is smaller than two centimeters.    T1 means that the tumor is between two and five centimeters. T3 means that the tumor is larger than five centimeters.  T4 means that the tumor has reached organs in the body, such as the bladder or urethra.  

Node- N

The N stands for lymph nodes in the TNM staging system.  Lymph nodes are bean shaped organs in the body that fight off infection.  Regional lymph nodes are the lymph nodes that are located near the anus. Distant lymph nodes are lymph nodes that are located in other parts of the body. 

NX means that an evaluation of regional lymph nodes cannot be completed.  N0 means that an evaluation of regional lymph nodes cannot be completed. N1 means that the cancer has reached the lymph nodes located around the rectum.   N2 means that the cancer has reached the lymph nodes in the pelvic and/or groin area on the same side of the body. N3 means that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes that are located on either side of the body

Metastasis- M

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The M is used in order to describe if the cancer has made its way to other parts of the body.  MX means an evaluation cannot be treated. M0 means that Metastasis has not occurred and M1 means that metastasis has taken place.

Grade- G

Anal cancer can also be described by its grade.  The grade is used in order to tell what the cancer cells look like in comparison to healthy cells when the cells are viewed under a microscope.  Cancerous tissue is compared with healthy tissue. Healthy cells typically contain numerous cell types grouped together. When cancer cells look similar to healthy cells, but contain different groupings, this is known as a differentiated tumor.  When cancer cells differ greatly in appearance from healthy tissue, this is known as poorly differentiated tumor. The grade of cancer that you are facing is used so that the doctor can predict how quickly the cancer is likely to spread. The lower grade of tumor, the better prognosis for the patient.

References:

http://analcancerinfo.ucsf.edu/staging-and-prognosis

http://www.cancercenter.com/anal-cancer/stages/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/anal-cancer/stages-types

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2003634-overview

 

Anal Cancer: Exploring the Prognosis and Chances for Survival

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Prognosis is a fancy used when treating various chronic diseases.  Many individuals do not understand what a prognosis is. Prognosis is a word that you may hear your health team utilize when treating your anal cancer.  The term is used in order to describe your chances of surviving the cancer. Other times, the word prognosis is used in order to discuss the likely outcome from treatment.  It is important to understand that a prognosis is a scientifically calculated estimation. In other words, it is a guess. Many individuals want to know their prognosis, or chances of survival, when they receive a diagnosis of anal cancer.

Decisions

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Deciding whether or not to ask about your prognosis is personal.  You have to make the decision on how much information you want to receive.  Some patients are able to cope with the cancer and fight it better when they are informed about their prognosis and provided with the statistics regarding the stage of cancer they are facing and how likely treatment is to work.  Others are confused by statistics and don’t want to know their chances of survival. They find it easier to cope and fight the cancer without that information. Other patients believe that statistics aren’t useful because they are simply a generic number.

The best individual to discuss your prognosis with is the healthcare provider that is most familiar with your health.  As you discuss the statistics and the prognosis, it is important to remember that the prognosis has the ability to change.  It is difficult to predict cancer and the outcomes for treatment. A favorable prognosis can quickly change if the cancer spreads and reaches major organs or if the patient does not respond to the treatment provided.  A prognosis that is not favorable also has the potential to change if the treatment goes well and prevents the growth and spread of the cancer.

How is a prognosis made?

The healthcare provider figures out any factor that can impact the cancer or the treatment when calculating a patient’s prognosis.  They look at the estimated risks and the stage of cancer that the patient is dealing with. Estimates are based on research results from research that have been conducted over many years on individuals with the same cancer.  A favorable prognosis is one where you are likely to respond to provided treatments. An unfavorable prognosis is when the cancer is likely going to be difficult to control and/or has the chance to significantly shorten the patient’s life.  It is critical to remember that a prognosis is what is probably going to happen. It is not a definite statement of the future. When treating cancer, there are rarely any certainties.  

A prognosis typically depends on numerous factors.  It depends on the location of the cancer and the type of cancer that the individual is facing.  It depends on how quickly the cancer is spreading and growing and the stage of cancer the individual has been diagnosed with.  Age and overall health play a key role in the prognosis. The decisions that you make for treatment and how you personally respond to the treatment also affect the prognosis.  

Survival Rates

Survival rates can be a difficult topic to understand.  In general, survival rates are the length of time that individuals typically live after being diagnosed with anal cancer.  Rates are grouped based on the stage and type of cancer being experienced. Normally, statistics are used in regards to five and ten year rates of survival.  Most individuals live between five and ten years after receiving a diagnosis of anal cancer. Survival rate looks at individuals who are cured, have few symptoms of cancer, and are being treated for cancer.

Many individuals that are grouped in the five year survival rate live much longer than five years.  It is also important to remember that statistics are often based on individuals that received their diagnosis over five years ago.  Individuals that have recently diagnosed have a better prognosis due to constantly improving options for treatment.

Prognosis for Anal Cancer

Source: healthin30.com

Anal cancer survival rates are based on large quantities of individuals.  Survival rates cannot predict what is definitely going to happen to an individual because no two people are exactly alike.  The way that individuals treat their cancer and respond to the treatments vary based on the individual. Anal cancer is a serious diagnosis.  Most treatments are effective, however, and many individuals are cured.  

About half of all diagnosed anal cancers are found early.  Most are diagnosed before the cancer is able to spread further than the anus.  This is known as localized cancer and has a five year survival rate of eighty percent.

There are times that cancer is not found until after it has spread to lymph nodes or other areas located around the anus.  This is referred to as locally advanced cancer and has a five year survival rate of sixty-one percent. When the cancer has spread to other locations in the body it is referred to as metastatic cancer and has a five year survival rate of around thirty percent.  The overall five year rate is sixty-six percent for anal cancer.

References:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/anal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/anal-cancer/statistics

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/anal-cancer/survival

 

What are Medical Treatments Available for Anal Cancer?

The type of treatment that is used to treat your cancer is dependent on the type of cancer that you are diagnosed with, where it is located, and the extent that it has spread.  There are many different options available for treatment, and many times it is based on the stage of cancer that you are facing. It is important to understand that Anal tumors that are not located in the anal canal are occasionally treated differently from anal cancer found in the canal.  

Stage 0

Source: skc-beratung.de

Stage 0 is the pre-cancer stage.  This is when the cancer is only located within the inner lining of your anus.  Cancer has not yet spread to the deeper layers. It is important to know that anal cancers are rarely identified during this stage.  When it is, the tumor can typically be completely removed by a surgeon and chemo is needed in rare instances.

Stage 1 and 2

Source: empowher.com

If you have been diagnosed with Stage 1 or Stage 2 anal cancer, this means that cancer has reached the anal wall but has not yet spread to the organs or lymph nodes that are nearby.  If the tumor is small enough, the tumor can typically be removed without the use of a sphincter. There are cases that chemo and/or radiation therapy are needed after to keep cancer from returning.

If the tumor is too big and there is no way that cancer can be removed without harming the anal sphincter, chemo, and radiation therapy are commonly combined to treat cancer.  When chemoradiation is used, 2 treatments are generally given within the same period. Chemo typically involves 5-FU with mitomycin C. Mitomycin is given through an IV, usually prior to radiation treatment and near the end of the treatment (around 4-6 weeks in).  5-FU is typically given through an IV over a period of 4 to 5 days and then repeated within 4-6 weeks. There are cases that internal radiation combined with external beam radiation.

There are times that cancer may not be completely gone after chemo has taken place.  If this happens, you may find that you require further treatment. You need to understand, however, that the full effects of chemo can take several months to notice.  Doctors typically keep an eye on any cancer that remains for as long as 6 months because there are times that it will continue to shrink. There are even times that it completely goes away and further treatment is not needed.

In the instance that further treatment is required, there are times that more chemo is given to attempt to shrink the remaining cancer.  5-FU and cisplatin are the drugs that are typically used in the process. Surgery is also an option for further treatment. This can remove any cancer that is remaining. An abdominoperineal resection is the most extensive operation that may be used for further treatment.  

Stages 3A and 3B

If you are diagnosed with Stage 3A or 3B, this means that cancer has reached nearby organs and/or lymph nodes but have not reached more distant parts of your body.  Most of the time, the first treatment that is tried is a combination of radiation and chemo. This means that both chemo and radiation are given over the same time. Like the process used for stages 1 and 2, 5-FU and mitomycin C are given.  Mitomycin is given in a short IV at the start and end of treatment. The 5-FU is given over a 4-5-day period and repeated at the 4 to 6 weeks mark. There are cases that internal radiation and external beam radiation may be suggested.

If cancer remains after the chemo combined with radiation process, you may find that nothing else occurs for up to 6 months to give the doctor the opportunity to see the full effects of the treatment.  However, if cancer begins to grow, further treatment will be needed. There are times that additional chemo is given and the drugs 5-FU and cisplatin. There are other times that a radiation boost (more radiation) is given.  Surgery is also an option. You can also undergo an abdominoperineal resection. When cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, you may find yourself undergoing surgery or receiving radiation therapy. Stage 3B can be a difficult stage for treatment, so this is the stage that you may find yourself looking at clinical trials as an option.

Stage 4

Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com

If you are diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, this means that your cancer has reached either the distant tissues or organs in your body.  Anal cancer typically reaches the liver, bones, brain, and lungs first. However, it can spread anywhere in the body.

If you have stage 4 cancer, treatment is unlikely to cure cancer.  Treatment is given to control cancer if you can and relieve the symptoms.  Chemotherapy combined with radiation is the standard treatment. 5-FU and cisplatin are the drugs commonly used.  There are incidences where surgery is used. It is important, however, that you know the goal of the surgery and the risks involved before undergoing this option.  Clinical trials are often also contemplated during this stage.

 

References:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/anal-cancer/treating.html

https://www.cancer.gov/types/anal/patient/anal-treatment-pdq

http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/anal-cancer/treatment-options

https://www.cancer.gov/types/anal/patient/anal-treatment-pdq

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anal-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20233247

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anal-cancer/home/ovc-20233197

https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=anal-cancer-therapy

https://www.uabmedicine.org/patient-care/conditions/anal-cancer

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ANAL CANCER

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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. 

 

Types of Anal Cancer

 

The variations of anal cancer depend on the kind of anal cells in which the cancer developed, according to cancercenter.com, and in verbatim:

 

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is located in the outer lining of the anal canal. It is the most common type of anal cancer.
  • Cloacogenic carcinoma starts between the outer part of the anus and the lower part of the rectum.
  • Adenocarcinoma occurs in the glands that produce mucous located beneath the anal lining.
  • Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can appear in the perianal skin, which is around the anus.
  • Melanoma starts in cells that produce pigment for the skin or anal lining

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Signs and Symptoms of Anal Cancer

 

Common symptoms of anal cancer may include:

 

  • Bloody stools
  • Random occurrence of diarrhea, constipation and thinning of stools
  • Lumps around the anus mostly mistaken for hemorrhoids
  • Mucous-like anal discharge 
  • Bloating
  • Anal itching
  • Anal pain 
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Discharge from the anus that are jelly-like
  • Lower back pain in  women (can be a sign of a tumor that creates pressure on the vagina)
  • Vaginal dryness

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Causes of Anal Cancer

 

Though experts cannot really pinpoint the causes anal cancer, there are a number of risk factors that may cause this disease.

  • HPV (human papilloma virus) – HPV are closely linked to anal cancer. Majority of patients with anal cancer are infected with HPV in the anal area.
  • Sexual partner numbers – Individuals who have had more sexual partners than others have higher risks of being infected with HPV, which is the primary risk factor for anal cancer.
  • Receptive anal intercourse – individuals who practices anal intercourse have higher risk of acquiring anal cancer. 
  • Other cancers – women and men who have had cancer in their reproductive area (vaginal or cervical cancer for women, and penile cancer for men) are more prone to developing anal cancer.
  • Age – as the case for most cancers, the older we get, the higher the risk of developing cancer.
  • Weak immune system – Individuals with HIV or AIDS and patients who have had organ transplants;  individuals who takes immunosuppressant medications are more at risk of having anal cancer.

 

If you think you are at risk of anal cancer, visit your doctor for a consultation.

What is Anal Cancer?

If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with anal cancer, you are probably feeling extremely stressed out and confused.  Many individuals leave the initial doctor’s visit in a fog. They have no clue what their diagnosis means. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with, you are afraid a diagnosis is a possibility, here is some critical to help you understand the diagnosis.

Is it Common?

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Many individuals are unaware of the fact that anal cancer is rare.  It begins in the anus. For those who are unaware, the anus is the medical term used for the opening that is found at the end of the rectum.  In 2014, it was predicted that little over seven thousand individuals would be diagnosed with anal cancer and it was predicted that nine-hundred and fifty of those would result in death.  Compare this to the predictions for colorectal cancer. In 2014, it was predicted that over one hundred and thirty-six thousand individuals would be diagnosed with anal cancer and over fifty thousand of those would result in death.

What are the odds?

About half of diagnosis of anal cancer occurs before cancer can spread.  Around thirteen to twenty-five percent of diagnosis has spread to the lymph nodes. Only ten percent of all cases are found after the cancer has spread throughout the organs or diagnosed after the cancer has metalized. The good news is that anal cancer is normally found in the early stages.  This means that the chances for successful treatment are very high. In fact, the survival rate for this type of cancer is around sixty percent for mean and approximately seventy-one percent for women.

When the cancer is found in the beginning, the survival rate is over eighty percent.  If the cancer is found after spreading to the lymph nodes, the survival rate is around sixty percent.  Once cancer reaches the organ, around one in every five patients live at least five years, if not longer.

Who is at Risk?

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You may be wondering if you or someone that you love could be at risk for anal cancer.  Around eighty percent of cases of anal cancer are diagnosed in individuals that are at least sixty-five years of age.  When anal cancer is diagnosed before the age of thirty-five, it is primarily found in men. When anal cancer is diagnosed after the age of fifty, it is more common in women.  

When you compare a number of single men with a number of men who are married that are diagnosed with anal cancer, it is found that single men are six times more likely to receive a diagnosis.  It has also been found that engaging in the receiving part of anal intercourse plays a part in the development of this type of cancer. HPV or human papillomavirus is a risk factor. Individuals with this virus have a higher chance of being diagnosed with anal cancer.  For those that may be unaware of what HPV is, it is a virus that results in genital warts.  

Individuals who have a diagnosis that means that their immune system has been compromised in some way, such as HIVs, are likely to end up with anal cancer.  The prognosis for this group is a lot more severe than individuals that have not had their immune system compromised in some way.

What to do?

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If you think that you or a loved one may have anal cancer, you need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately.  The sooner that you or your loved one are diagnosed and begin treatment, the better your chances will be to fight cancer. If you have a loved one that has been recently diagnosed with cancer, you want to make sure that you are patient with them and realize that they just got some scary news themselves.  Allow them some time to process the news before you begin asking them a bunch of questions. If you have recently been diagnosed, you should take a few days to process and then tell your friends and family. You do not want to wait to tell your friends and family because you are going to need them in the days to come.  

 

References

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/anal-cancer/about/what-is-anal-cancer.html

https://www.cancer.gov/types/anal/patient/anal-treatment-pdq

https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/anal-cancer