CAUSES OF ANAL CANCER
The growth of aberrant cells in the body causes anal cancer. These abnormal cells can grow out of control and clump together to create tumors. Advanced cancer cells have the ability to metastasize, or migrate to other regions of the body, disrupting normal processes.
The human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is considered as one of the major anal cancer causes. It is found in the majority of instances of anal cancer.
Anal cancer may also be caused by other malignancies in the body spreading to the anal canal. This occurs when cancer begins in another part of the body and then spreads to the anus.
RISK FACTORS OF ANAL CANCER
A risk factor is something that raises your chances of developing an illness like cancer. The risk factors for various malignancies vary. Some risk factors, including smoking and eating habits, can be altered but others, such as a person’s age or family history, cannot.
Anal cancer risk is influenced by a number of factors. However, just because you have a risk factor or even multiple risk factors, does not indicate you will develop cancer. Many persons with risk factors will never acquire anal cancer, but others who develop the illness have little or no recognized risk factors.
Some of the risk factors of anal cancer are given as follows:-
(A) HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS INFECTION (HPV):-
The major risk factor for anal cancer is infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). The majority of squamous cell anal tumors are connected to HPV infection. In reality, women who have had cervical cancer (or pre-cancer) have a higher chance of developing anal cancer.
- HPV may infect cells on the skin’s surface, as well as those that line the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, but no blood or internal organs like the heart or lungs.
- During skin-to-skin contact, HPV can transmit from one person to another. Sexual activity, such as vaginal, anal, and even oral sex, is one way by which HPV spreads.
- Warts on various areas of the body are caused by different strains of HPV. Some cause warts on the lips or tongue; others tend to cause ordinary warts on the hands and feet.
HPV infection is widespread, and in most situations, the virus may be cleared by the body on its own. However, in certain cases, the infection persists and becomes chronic. Chronic infection, particularly caused by certain high-risk HPV strains which can lead to cancer, including anal cancer.
HPV-16 is the high-risk subtype of HPV which is most likely to cause anal cancer. HPV-18 is another high-risk strain, but it’s less common in anal cancer.
Warts in or around the anal region, as well as on the female and male genital organs, may be caused by other kinds of HPV. These are known as low-risk types of HPV because they are rarely associated with cancer.
Although there is no cure for HPV infection, warts and abnormal cell development that are caused by HPV can be treated. Additionally, HPV vaccinations are available to help prevent infection by specific kinds of HPV as well as certain of the other malignancies associated with those of HPV or its types.
(B) ANAL FISTULA:-
An anal fistula is an unusual tunnel between the anal canal and the anus’s outer skin. The tunnel often oozes pus or liquid, which can soil or stain clothes. An anal fistula can irritate or cause discomfort to the outer tissues. It may raise the risk of developing anal cancer.
(C) HISTORY OF CERVICAL, VULVAL OR VAGINAL CANCER:-
According to certain studies, those who have had cervical, vulvar, or vaginal cancer are more likely to acquire abnormal cells in the anus or anal cancer than the normal population. Women having a history of abnormal cells in the cervix, vulva, or vagina are also at a higher risk.
This is probably due to risk factors general to all these cancers, like HPV infection. But we need additional research to fully comprehend how these cancers influence anal cancer risk.
(D) WEAKENED IMMUNITY:-
Anal cancer is more common in those who have a disease or condition that affects their immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or organ transplantation. Anal cancer is more common in those who take immunosuppressive medications, which weaken the immune system’s ability to fight disease.
(E) CIGARETTE SMOKING:-
Smoking raises the risk of anal cancer. An individual’s chance of acquiring anal cancer increases with their pack-year smoking history. Current smokers are more likely to get anus cancer as opposed to people who do not smoke or have quit smoking. Discontinuation of smoking seems to reduce the chances of anal cancer.
(F) ANAL INTERCOURSE:-
People who engage in anal intercourse are may be at a higher risk of developing anal cancer. This might be because of a higher chance of contracting HPV infection.
If you use condoms every time you have intercourse, you can reduce your risk of acquiring HPV. However, because HPV may infect regions not covered by a condom, they do not entirely eliminate the risk.
(G) MULTIPLE SEXUAL PARTNERS:-
Anal cancer is more common in those who have had many sexual partners throughout their lives.
(H) AGE AND GENDER:-
As you become older, your chances of having anal cancer rise.
Anal cancer affects about 25 out of every 100 persons in the UK each year (about 25%). However, because anal cancer is an uncommon malignancy, the risk remains low.
Women are more likely to get anal cancer than males.
(I) FREQUENT ANAL IRRITATION:-
Anal redness, swelling, and discomfort on a regular basis may raise the chances of developing anal cancer.