Must-Know Symptoms of Anal Cancer

Anal cancer can be marked by cancer cells forming in the tissues of the anus. This disease is often linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, but can also be caused by many other factors.

If you’re an avid smoker, over the age of 55, or have a compromised immune system, you might be at risk of anal cancer. That being said, it’s important that you look out for common signs of this disease, including…

1. Rectal Bleeding

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One of the earliest symptoms of anal cancer is bleeding from the rectum. While the bleeding is often minor, it’s often the first sign of the disease. More often than not, this form of bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids, but can also be linked to anal cancer, so it should be taken seriously.

This symptom isn’t the only one that affects the rectum…

2. Itching of the Rectum

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Another symptom that directly affects the rectum is pruritus ani, which means “itchy anus” in Latin. This symptom is caused by irritation of the skin near the anus and is often persistent. Although it can be a sign of anal cancer, it’s not an extremely common sign.

Along with itching of the rectum, anal cancer patients often experience pain in the anal area…

3. Pain in the Anal Area


If you’re experiencing pain in the anal area, you might be at risk of anal cancer. This discomfort is often an early sign of anal cancer, so if the pain lasts for more than a few days, it’s recommended that you see a physician.

This next symptom is often one that you can’t control…

4. Incontinence of Stool

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Patients with anal cancer often lose control of their bowel movements. Incontinence can range from anything as little as unintentional gas release to a total loss of control. This symptom is common among individuals with anal cancer and may occur frequently.

There are other symptoms of anal cancer that you can physically feel, like this next one…

5. Swollen Lymph Nodes

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While it’s commonly known that there are lymph nodes in the neck, they also lie near the anus and are called regional lymph nodes. With anal cancer, these lymph nodes are often swollen in the anal or groin areas. Swollen lymph nodes will be painful to touch and are often inflamed and irritated.

If you feel a feeling of fullness in the anal area, this can be another sign of anal cancer…

6. A Full Feeling in the Anus

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During the early stages of anal cancer, it’s common that patients will experience a full feeling in the anus. This is often because the rectum is inflamed and enlarged. If this symptom applies to you, be sure to get check out by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated.

The next symptom might be the most unpleasant of them all…

7. Discharge from the Anus / Shutterstock

Rectal discharge has numerous causes and anal cancer is one of them. While anal cancer is one of the least likely causes, it’s still something to watch out for. Anything that comes from the anus that isn’t stool or blood is considered rectal discharge.

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