Anal Cancer Stages
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Anal cancer stages are vital in determining the intensity of the cancer in the anus. Each stage has a specific limit and the cancer progresses from one stage to another with an increase in the intensity and metastasis of cancerous tumors. Usually, the tumors are easily curable if detected in the early stages. As the cancer progresses in the later stages, the cure becomes more complicated and the chances of anal cancer recurrence also increase.
Concept of anal cancer stages
Anal cancer doesn't spread to various areas of the body in one go. The cancerous cells primarily attack the cells and tissues present in the anus. Live and healthy cells and tissues are obstructed from working normally and are forced to behave absurdly. This can be said as the primary stage of the cancer wherein the cancerous cells affect only the cells in the anus and do not spread to other areas of the body.
Normally, the development of benign tumors can also be seen as a pre-cancerous stage. Benign tumors, if not treated in time, carry a risk of turning into the cancerous ones. Hence, untreated benign tumors can be considered as a basis of cancerous development. The cancerous cells have a tendency to metastasize. They infect various parts of the body by using bloodstream and lymph nodes as a medium. Some of the malignant cells part themselves from the parent tumor and develop separate tumors in the areas they infect. Stage of anal cancer is determined usually by the size and intensity of the tumor and the areas it infects.
Anal cancer stages can be diagnosed using a few advanced diagnosis techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, X-rays, endoanal ultrasound, biopsy and ultrasound. These techniques are very helpful in examining the body of the victim internally and determining the intensity of the cancerous tumors. Some may also undergo positron emission tomography (PET) test, endoscopy and digital rectal exam to detect the abnormalities in the anus.
Anal cancer stages
Anal cancer develops in various different stages and each stage is a progression of the previous one. Severity and duration of anal cancer treatment mainly depends upon the stage a victim is suffering from and his age. The cancer is more prevalent in women as compared to men and usually occurs in adults above 45 years of age.
The cancer progresses in various stages as under:
Stage 0- This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ. The cancerous cells are present only in the mucosa (innermost layer of the anus lining). Early detection of tumors in this stage is most advantageous as compared to other stages. Chances of curing the cancer safely and without any harsh treatment are highest in this stage. The stage can also be treated as pre-cancerous as the malignant cells hardly show any signs of metastasis.
Stage 1 - In this stage, the cancerous cells begin to target the healthy cells and tissues outside the mucosa and begin to spread the cancerous infection. Tumor size is generally less than or equal to 2 cm.
Stage 2 - This stage is usually the period when the tumor is still in the developmental phase. Its size keeps on increasing gradually and goes beyond 2 cm.
Stage 3 A - The tumor continues to increase gradually and isn't limited to a certain size. It also develops a tendency to metastasize and initially targets the bladder, vagina, urethra and lymph nodes adjacent to the rectum.
Stage 3 B - This stage is a continuation of the previous one and the tumor metastasizes persistently. There is no specific size-limit for the tumor and it reaches the prime areas like pelvis or groins and infects the areas nearby.
Stage 4 - This is the most advanced stage of the cancer in the anus. The tumor metastasizes rapidly and generates multiple tumors in the body simultaneously. All sorts of treatments are usually ineffective in this stage and the chance of recurrence of malignant tumors is high even if curbed previously by harshest of the treatments.
Proper detection and diagnosis of malignant tumors is the only key to restrain them from growing. Once the cancer enters into a stage where the tumors start to metastasize, it is difficult to control or neutralize them by surgery. Radiotherapy is the only form of treatment to bring the abnormal cells under control if the disease is into an advanced stage. Surgery is effective only when the malignant cells restrict themselves to a particular area or the tumor is in the pre-cancerous stage. Chemotherapy is also another important form of anal cancer therapy recommended to treat cancerous tumors and depends upon the severity of tumors. All the three treatments can be used individually or in combination depending upon the urgency to control the tumors.
Anal cancer staging play an important role in determining the line of treatment for a particular patient. Forms and intensity of treatment may vary from person to person depending upon his ability to sustain the side effects of that particular treatment. Stage of the disease also helps in determining the chances of survival of the victim. Stage identification can be more efficient if the concerned anal cancer breakthroughs are given due consideration.