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 – these may be confused with piles (haemorrhoids)
  • discharge of mucus from the anus
  • ulcers around the anus
  • difficulty controlling your bowels (leakage).

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

These symptoms  can be caused by conditions other than anal cancer. But it’s very important to get them checked by your GP. Many people are embarrassed or uncomfortable discussing this part of their body. But doctors are used to talking about and examining private areas of the body. 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 for your GP to refer you to a specialist. The specialist can arrange tests to find out what the problem is.

Back to Understanding anal cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

The anus

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

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system helps to protect us from infection and includes lymph nodes (glands). There are lymph nodes near the anus.

Types of anal cancer

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