Anal cancer: itching and fatigue - watch out for these typical symptoms!

Important early warning signs for anal cancer (anal cancer)

Anal cancer can manifest itself through normal symptoms such as fatigue or after itching, but it can also lead to clearer symptoms such as blood in the stool or pencil chair. Recognizing the symptoms as early as possible and seeking medical help is essential for successful therapy. The earlier the cancer is discovered, the higher the chances of recovery. The German Cancer Society names eleven early symptoms as possible indications of anal cancer.

Diagnosing cancer is often a challenge. Many tumors are recognized late because they do not cause severe symptoms in the early stages. At the same time, the earlier the cancer is discovered, the better the chances of a cure. Anal cancer (anal cancer) often presents early symptoms that should not be ignored.

Experts from the German Cancer Society explain the most common signs that indicate anal cancer. If you regularly suffer from certain complaints, you should not delay a visit to the doctor because anal cancer treated early has good chances of recovery.

How does anal cancer develop?

Anal cancer develops when healthy cells mutate in the anal canal. These abnormal cells multiply out of control and do not die as quickly as healthy cells. As a result, a tumor forms that later forms metastases and can spread to other areas of the body.

What are the risk factors?

Anal cancer is closely linked to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is considered the most common cause of anal cancer. Other risk factors are

  • increasing age,
  • many different sexual partners,
  • practicing anal intercourse,
  • Smoke,
  • a family history of cancer, especially cervical or vaginal cancer,
  • Medicines or other factors that suppress the immune system.

It doesn't have to be cancer

If you have some of the symptoms mentioned here, you should urgently see your family doctor. However, one should not judge prematurely, because some of the complaints can also arise from less dangerous causes such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Here, too, a visit to the doctor creates clarity.

Eleven common early signs of anal cancer

In contrast to many other types of cancer, anal carcinomas are often expressed by early signs. The following complaints can indicate anal cancer early on, according to the German Cancer Society:

  • Blood in the stool,
  • Painful bowel movements,
  • Itching on the anus,
  • Foreign body sensation in the intestine,
  • Abnormalities in the chair such as pencil chair or notches,
  • frequent constipation,
  • Problems regulating bowel movements,
  • Lymph node enlargement in the groin area,
  • Exhaustion,
  • inexplicable weight loss,
  • Night sweats.

How can you protect yourself from anal cancer

The good news is that anal cancers are relatively rare. They make up only one to two percent of all colon cancers. There is currently no absolutely reliable way to protect yourself from anal cancer. The use of condoms, vaccination against HPV before the first sexual intercourse and stopping smoking are all associated with a reduced risk of anal cancer. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • ONKO Internet portal of the German Cancer Society: Anal cancer - frequency, anatomy, causes and prevention (access: December 26, 2019),,

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