Sign and Symptoms of Anal Cancer

Executive Summary

The person affected by anal cancer can be diagnosed on the basis of signs and symptoms. Some common signs and symptoms of anal cancer include bleeding from the anus, pain and compression, itching, swelling, and changes in bowel habits.

Signs and symptoms

The following symptoms can occur in people with anal cancer. The affected person can only identify and explain symptoms, for example- fatigue, nausea, or pain. Some people can recognize and measure signs like fever, rash, or increased heart rate. Together, the signs and symptoms help explain the medical problem. People with anal tumour may not have the signs and symptoms described below.

Alternatively, the cause of the symptoms or symptom of anal tumour may be a medical condition other than cancer ​1​.

  • Bleeding from the anus 
  • Pain or compression in the anus 
  • Itching or drainage from the anus
  • A lump or swelling near the anus 
  • A change in bowel habits or changes in stool diameter

Talk to your doctor if you are anxious about changes. In addition to other questions, your doctor might ask you how long and how often you have symptoms. This helps determine the cause of a problem called diagnosis. Symptom relief remains an essential part of cancer care and management after cancer diagnosis. This is sometimes called palliative care or supportive care. It often begins shortly after diagnosis of anal cancer and continues throughout treatment. Always have a word with your health care team regarding any symptoms you are experiencing, such as new symptoms or changes in symptoms.


  1. 1.
    Sauter M, Keilholz G, Kranzbühler H, et al. Presenting symptoms predict local staging of anal cancer: a retrospective analysis of 86 patients. BMC Gastroenterol. 2016;16:46. doi:10.1186/s12876-016-0461-0