Diagnosis & Staging
Anus cancer is not common. There are about 600 cases each year in Canada.
If you have early-stage anus cancer, you may not have any symptoms.
Here are some symptoms of anus cancer:
- Bleeding from your anus. This may be the first sign of cancer.
- Having an itchy anus that does not go away.
- Mucus coming out of your anus.
- A change in your bowel movements (going poop).
- A sore on or near your anus.
- Swollen lymph nodes in your groin or anal area.
If you have any signs or symptoms that you are worried about, please talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner.
These are tests that may be used to diagnose anus cancer:
- Physical examination: your doctor will examine you. They will use their fingers to check your anus and rectum. This is called a digital rectal examination (DRE).
- Anoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: A tube with a light is put into your anus to look inside the anal canal.
- Biopsy of anal tissue: a small bit of tissue is removed and examined by a pathologist to see if it is cancer.
- Gynecological exam: People with a vagina should have a gynecological exam with a pap smear to check for cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix). Anus cancer and cervical cancer are both related to HPV (human papillomavirus).
- If your lymph nodes are swollen, you may need other tests.
If any of these tests find anus cancer, you may need more tests to see if the cancer has spread. You may need imaging tests like a CT scan, MRI or PET scan of the pelvis and abdomen area.
For more information on tests used to diagnose cancer, see Recommended Websites - Screening and Diagnosis.
cell carcinoma: the most common type of anus cancer. 90% (90 out of 100) of
anus cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. They start in the cells that line the
Rare types of anus cancer include adenocarcinomas, basal cell carcinomas and melanomas.
What are the stages of anus cancer?
Staging describes the cancer. Staging is based on how much cancer is in the body, where it was first diagnosed, if the cancer has spread and where it has spread to.
A lower number in each category usually means a better prognosis (how well your treatment is expected to work and how long you are expected to live). The stage of the cancer is used to plan your treatment.
- Stage 0: Carcinoma in situ. This is early cancer and has not spread to any other areas.
- Stage 1: Tumour (cancer growth) is 2 cm or less.
- Stage 2: Tumour is between 2 cm and 5 cm.
- Stage 3: Tumour is more than 5 cm.
- Stage 4: Tumour is any size and has spread to nearby organ(s) such as the vagina, urethra, or bladder