Anal Dysplasia and Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Complications

Anal Dysplasia and Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Complications

There may be various HPV strains which develop cancer of the anus as well as dysplasia.

Even though there is a higher risk of developing dysplasia for men who have sexual contact with other men, women are also at risk. This is especially true if the woman has had anal sex with men or if they are HIV positive.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Anal Dysplasia and Cancer?

Most women will never have symptoms. Yet, the main symptoms are burning, itching, irritation, rectal or anal bleeding. In more advanced stages, there could be anal discharge, ulcers, lumps and abscesses.

The only way for anal cancer to be found is to have a full examination by a doctor. However, getting an abnormal pap test of your anus could be a sign of cancer or dysplasia.

Your doctor may also use a DRE or digital rectal exam to diagnose issues. This is where they will use a gloved finger that is fully lubricated into your anus and rectum to feel for anything abnormal.

If you happen to have any symptoms, then your doctor may then recommend an anoscopy as well as a biopsy. It is very important that you talk to your doctor about getting checked for anal cancer regularly.

Anal Dysplasia Treatment:

If you have been diagnosed with anal dysplasia, then you should talk to your doctor about treatment choices. Many treatments will often focus on destroying abnormal cells so that they don’t turn into cancer. These treatments can include:

  • Cryotherapy: Uses liquid nitrogen to freeze cells.
  • Surgery: A surgical blade is used to cut the cells out.
  • Laser Therapy: Intense lights are used to destroy cells.
  • Electrocautery: The cells are burned off using an electrical current.

Anal dysplasia is much more common for women who have HIV. This is very true for those who have advanced HIV and very low CD4 counts. This condition is very serious and hard to treat if a person has HIV. For a woman who has HIV, is going through HIV treatment and taking the medication can strengthen their immune system and help the condition to be less bad. If a person is already taking HIV medication, it is important that they are taken as written as it can help to boost the CD4 counts and help the body to defeat HPV which can cause anal cancer.

Anal Cancer Treatment:

It is better to treat anal cancer when it is first diagnosed and done early enough. This means that regular exams are very vital for your health. Treatment will often depend on the cancer type and if it has spread. Often times, multiple treatments are used at once. These treatments include:

  • Radiation: High energy rays are sent and used to kill off the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Medications like intravenous and/or pill medications are used to kill or shrink the cancer.
  • Surgery: the cancer tissues are removed during a sterile operation.

Written by Mark Riegel, MD

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