Signs and symptoms of anal cancer

The most common symptoms of anal cancer include:

  • bleeding from the anus
  • pain, discomfort and itching around the anus
  • small lumps around the anus – which may be confused with piles (haemorrhoids)
  • difficulty controlling your bowels (faecal incontinence)
  • discharge of mucus from the anus
  • ulcers around the anus that can spread to the skin of the buttocks.

About 1 in 5 (20%) people with anal cancer have no symptoms.

Although these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than anal cancer, it’s important that you always have them checked by your GP. Many people are embarrassed or uncomfortable discussing this area of their body. But it’s not unusual for doctors to examine the anus and back passage, and they will help put you at ease.

If you have symptoms that don’t improve within a few weeks, or if your symptoms are getting worse, it’s important that you’re referred to a specialist. They can arrange tests to find out what the problem is.

Back to Understanding anal cancer

The anus

The anus is the opening at the end of the large bowel. Stools pass through the anus when leaving the body.

Types of anal cancer

There are different types of anal cancer. The most common type of anal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.