Things to know about the Anal Cancer Deaths Increased in the US

Things to know about the Anal Cancer Deaths Increased in the US
Things to know about the Anal Cancer Deaths Increased in the US

Diagnoses and death due to anal cancer doubles in the US in the last 15 years

Until a few years back, anal cancer was not seriously considered and was relatively a rare disease. It accounted for only one or two per cent of cancer diseases. It was not much talked publicly even after the death of actress Farrah Fawcett due to it in 2009 and Marcia Cross being diagnosed for it.

But the recent research published in the National Cancer Institute Journal throws new light on anal cancer. Researchers from the University of Texas, Houston has found that the diagnoses and death rate have been doubled in the last fifteen years from 2001 to 2016. They also stress the importance of older people to get the HPV vaccine to be not affected by anal cancer.

Ashish Deshmukh, the published study's lead author and assistant professor at the UT Health School of Public Health in Houston, says that the study's finding is shocking. With the increase of anal cancer, it could be soon one of the fastest accelerating causes of cancer occurrence and death in the US.

The study found 68,809 anal cancer diagnosed patients, out of which 12,111 died due to it. The researchers analyzed the data from the US cancer registries from 2001 to 2016. They also took into account the causes of death from the National Center for Health Statistics complied with data over the same period.

The findings of the study

  • The common type of anal cancer increased by 2.7 % per year
  • The anal cancer death rated increased by 3.1 % per year from 2001 to 2016
  • 90 % of anal cancer cases were associated with HPV or human papillomavirus
  • Three-quarters of the anal cancer patients did not know that HPV is the cause for it
  • Even after the rise of the HPV vaccine which prevents 90 % of anal cancers, the patients who were diagnosed and dead are doubled in the study period of 15 years
  • Americans who are in their 50s and 60s being affected by anal cancer increased by  100 % in 2016 when compared to 2001
  • Millennial blacks or those who were born after the 1980s are being affected by anal cancer five times more than those blacks born in the mid-1940s

Anal cancer stats

Every year worldwide, 1280 people die of anal cancer, which includes 520 men and 760 women. In America this year, 2019, it is estimated that 8,300 people are diagnosed with anal cancer. People younger than 35 years of age are rarely affected by anal cancer. Anal cancer has an average five years survival rate, or people only live five years after disease affects them.

Skin Cancer: Vitamin D can Scrutinize Melanoma via VDR

Causes of anal cancer

Anal cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that develops due to the malignant cells forming in the anal canal. It is a short tube at the end of the rectum through which the stool leaves the human body. HPV or Human papillomavirus is the cause of 90 % cases. Older people who do not clean the HPV properly are prone to be more affected by anal cancer as the strains of the virus spread to the anal canal.

Symptoms of anal cancer

  • The first sign or symptom is the pain and pressure around the anus area which is accompanied with bleeding in the anus and rectum
  • Changing bowel movements with narrowing of stools
  • Anal itching with lump or mass growth in the anal canal

Risk factors of anal cancer

  • Common among people above 50 years
  • Having too many sexual partners
  • Having anal intercourse as the HPV is prone to pass through sexual contact
  • People with a history of cancer ailments
  • HPV which is sexually transmitted infection that causes genital warts
  • Taking drugs that suppress the immune system and also by the HIV that compromises the immune system
  • Often experiencing redness, swelling, and soreness in the anal area
  • Having abnormal openings in the anal tube called fistulas
  • Smoking increases the risk of anal cancer

Prevention of anal disease

Though there is no sure way to prevent anal cancer, the chances can be reduced by

  • Having safer intercourse
  • Getting vaccinated against HPV
  • Cleaning of private parts thoroughly after unsafe sex
  • Stopping smoking

Diagnosis of anal cancer

While Farrah Fawcet died due to improper diagnosis and late treatment of anal cancer, actress Marcia Cross is surviving it due to proper anal cancer diagnosis. It is by rectal examination with a gloved and lubricated finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel for lumps. Flexible and thin instruments with lights and cameras are now helping doctors and patients to diagnose anal cancer now. Also, imaging scans are now used to find out if the tumor is spread to other parts of the body.

Anal cancer treatment

The treatment of anal cancer depends on where the tumor is located and whether it has metastasized. The normal treatments are chemotherapy and radiation. If these fail to control the effects, the doctors may remove the anus, the rectum, and part of the colon in operation called abdominoperineal resection, which is used only in rare cases of anal cancer.

Stopping the stigma of how to show private parts to doctors and also stopping being ashamed of the disease will save many deaths due to anal cancers. Hence once if the symptoms become severe, it is time to see the doctor immediately to save lives from anal cancer.