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What are the symptoms?

In its early stages, anal cancer often has no obvious symptoms, but some people may have symptoms such as:

  • blood or mucus in faeces or on toilet paper
  • itching, discomfort or pain around the anus, or a feeling of fullness, discomfort or pain in the rectum
  • a lump near the edge of the anus
  • ulcers around the anus
  • difficulty controlling bowel movements.

Not everyone with these symptoms has anal cancer. Other conditions, such as piles (haemorrhoids) or tears in the anal canal (anal fissures), can also cause these changes. If the symptoms are ongoing, see your general practitioner (GP) for a check-up.

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Understanding Anal Cancer

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed July 2020 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Chip Farmer, Colorectal Surgeon, The Alfred, The Avenue and Cabrini Hospitals, VIC; Tara Faure, Lower GI Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Debra Furniss, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Max Niggl, Consumer; Julie O’Rourke, CNC Radiation Oncology, Cancer Rapid Assessment Unit, Cancer and Ambulatory Support, Canberra Health Services, ACT; Dr Satish Warrier, Colorectal Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC.