An anal cancer diagnosis is reached through a series of tests that examine the rectum and anus. Many times, the possibility of cancer of the anus and anal cavity can be detected by a digital rectal exam and/or the removal of what is suspected to be a hemorrhoid. Other routine procedures may suggest to a physician that more diagnostic tests should be performed in order to rule out the possibility of anal cancer. These tests may also be ordered if a patient is experiencing one or more of the signs and symptoms of the condition.
A physician may use one or more of the following procedures to make an accurate anal cancer diagnosis:
- Anoscopy or proctoscopy – A short, lighted tube is used to examine the anus and/or rectum.
- Endo-anal or endorectal ultrasound – A probe is inserted into the anus and used to take a picture of the region using the echoes from high-energy sound waves.
- Biopsy – Cells or tissues from the affected area are removed so that they can be examined under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.
If anal cancer is diagnosed, a physician may order a pelvic CT scan or a pelvic MRI scan to examine the region in order to determine whether the cancer has spread to other tissues. This will allow the physician to describe the nature of the condition by assigning a stage, which plays a part in determining how the cancer needs to be treated.
At Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, our team of surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, nurses and other medical professionals work collaboratively to diagnose the patients under our care, as well as plan and carry out their individualized treatment. Plus, our researchers work diligently to develop and test new therapies through our robust clinical trials program.
If you’re interested in learning more about anal cancer diagnosis techniques, or have other questions about the condition, contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or by filling out our online patient registration form. No referral is needed to meet with our highly specialized anal cancer team.