Sometimes anal cancer causes no symptoms at all. But bleeding is often the first sign of the disease. The bleeding is usually minor. At first, most people assume the bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids (painful, swollen veins in the anus and rectum that may bleed). They are a benign and fairly common cause of rectal bleeding.
Important symptoms of anal cancer include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal itching
- A lump or mass at the anal opening
- Pain or a feeling of fullness in the anal area
- Narrowing of stool or other changes in bowel movements
- Abnormal discharge from the anus
- Swollen lymph nodes in the anal or groin areas
- Women may experience lower back pain as the tumor exerts pressure on the vagina.
- Women may experience vaginal dryness.
Most often these types of symptoms are more likely to be caused by benign (non-cancer) conditions, like haemorrhoids, anal fissures, or anal warts. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.