How is anorectal cancer diagnosed?

Your physician will perform a physical examination and take a full medical history. He or she will do a digital rectal examination to check for lumps or anything unusual by inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum. Your physician may also use an anoscope or proctoscope – both are short, lighted tubes – to examine the anus and lower rectum, and perform an endoanal or endorectal ultrasound. This test uses sound waves emitted by a probe, or transducer, which is inserted into the rectum and bounces sound waves off tissues to produce an image on a screen. A colonoscopy may be performed to evaluate the rest of the colon. Finally, your doctor may take a biopsy to check for cancer if an area appears abnormal.

Continue Learning about Anal Cancer

Anal Cancer

A rare disease, anal cancer accounts for less than 6,000 cases a year in the U.S., although its incidence appears to be increasing each year. Anal cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop at the opening end of the rectum. Benig...

n, or noncancerous, tumors can also later develop into anal cancer. While no one knows its cause, doctors believe a genetic mutation leads to anal cancer. Caught early, this cancer can be cured; however, once it spreads to other organs, the five-year survival rate drops to 20%. Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgical removal of the cancer. If you are older than 50, have multiple sexual partners, smoke cigarettes or have the human papillomavirus (HPV), you are at greater risk of developing this cancer. You are also at greater risk if you take immunosuppressive drugs like those taken after an organ transplant. Visit your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms: anal itching, bleeding in the anus or rectum, and pain near the anus.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.