Typically, a person cannot identify anal cancer by sight. However, in some cases, small, hard lumps may develop just inside and outside the anus, so it may be beneficial to learn about what anal cancer may look like.
Often, a person cannot see anal cancer. However, in some cases, they may have hard, fleshy lumps just inside or outside the anus.
This article examines what anal cancer looks like, with pictures and a comparison with external hemorrhoids. Finally, it explores the symptoms of anal cancer, other reasons for lumps around the anus, and when to consult a doctor.
A person may not be able to identify anal cancer externally.
People may also develop a painful sore around the anus that does not heal.
Other associated symptoms
- bleeding from the anus or rectum
- pain or pressure in the anus
Additional possible symptoms of anal cancer include:
- changes in bowel movements, including:
- needing to open the bowels more often or less frequently
- straining more regularly
- narrowing of stool
- loss of bowel control or incontinence
- swollen lymph nodes in the anus or groin area
- a feeling of needing to open the bowels
However, approximately 20% of individuals with anal cancer do not experience any symptoms.
In some cases, a person may mistake hemorrhoids for anal cancer, particularly external hemorrhoids. These often occur when there is too much pressure on the veins around the anus.
There are two different types of hemorrhoids:
- External: These form under the skin around the anus. A person with external hemorrhoids may have one or more lumps that feel itchy. They may also be painful, particularly when sitting. However, external hemorrhoid symptoms should disappear within a few days.
- Internal: These are lumps that form just inside the anus. They may cause bleeding from the rectum and a prolapse. Internal hemorrhoids can also prolapse. When this happens, the hemorrhoid falls through the anal opening, causing pain and discomfort.
The table below outlines some key differences between hemorrhoids and lumps relating to anal cancer:
|swollen and inflamed veins due to excess pressure
|cells that grow out of control that may cause lumps
|• lumps that can be hard or
• bright red blood after passing stool
• mucus in the underwear or on the toilet paper after passing stool
• the sensation that a person still needs to empty their bowels even after pooping
|• lumps that can be hard
• rectal bleeding
• atypical discharge from the anus
• bowel incontinence
• swollen lymph nodes in the groin or anal areas
• narrowing of the stool
Lumps on or around the anus are not always cancer. Below are some possible other causes of lumps on or around the anus.
This is a benign growth that may form in the anus. They are often small, bumpy, and mushroom shaped. Symptoms include blood in the stool, mucus, stomach pain, and a change in bowel habits.
Polyps affect approximately 20–30% of American adults.
These are growths that form just outside the anus or in the lower anal canal. The cause of anal warts is a virus known as the human papillomavirus. Anal warts often require surgical or topical treatment.
Individuals who have or have had anal warts are
Skin tags look similar to hemorrhoids and warts. They are small, skin-colored, and usually soft. These lumps are benign, but doctors can remove them if a person wishes.
These are small tears in the anal lining. Initially, an anal fissure does not cause lumps. However, if the fissure spreads downward, it can result in a lump.
People may also notice bright red blood on the toilet paper after wiping.
A person should contact a doctor if they develop lumps around the anus area, particularly if rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits also accompany them.
People should also contact a doctor if they experience any other symptoms of anal cancer.
Some individuals with anal cancer may not develop any symptoms. However, occasionally, individuals may be able to feel lumps just inside or outside the anus.
These lumps may also cause rectal bleeding, pain or pressure in the anus, itching, and discharge.
If a person experiences symptoms of anal cancer, they should consult a doctor.