Anal cancer symptoms

Symptoms of anal cancer can include bleeding, bowel changes and severe itching (pruritus).

They can also be symptoms for other conditions such as piles (haemorrhoids), but it's important to see your doctor. 


The most common symptom of anal cancer is bleeding from the back passage (rectal bleeding). You might notice this as blood in your poo. 


You might have pain around your anal area. Together with bleeding, this may be confused with piles.

Sensation of a lump

You might feel the sensation of a lump around your anus.

Severe itching

Another symptom of anal cancer can be severe itching (pruritus) in the area around your anus. 

Mucus from your back passage

Mucus coming from your back passage (discharge) can be a sign of anal cancer. 

Bowel changes

You may notice you have difficulty controlling your bowels (faecal incontinence). This might mean you poo more frequently or you find that it is looser. 

No symptoms

You might have no symptoms at all. 20 out of 100 people (20%) diagnosed with anal cancer don’t have any symptoms.

When to see your doctor

You should see your doctor if you have:

  • symptoms that are unusual for you
  • symptoms that won't go away

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer but it is important to get them checked by a doctor.

Last reviewed: 
04 Apr 2019
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    R. Glynne-Jones and others 
    Annals of Oncology, 2014. Volume 25, Pages iii10-iii20

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    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

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    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Textbook of uncommon cancers (5th edition)
    D Raghavan, MS Ahluwalia, C Blanke and others
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