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Your healthcare provider will perform an examination, ask about your symptoms and review your medical history in detail. They may use several tests to diagnose anal cancer, including:

  • Visual exam with anoscopy. Your healthcare provider will look at the area, possibly using an instrument called an anoscope. The anoscope is made up of a tube and a light and lets your healthcare provider see into your anal canal.
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). Your healthcare provider is also likely to do a digital rectal exam. Wearing gloves, they’ll put lubricant on a finger and place it inside of your anus to feel for lumps or other problems.
  • Anal Pap test. During this examination, your healthcare provider inserts a cotton swab into your anus to collect cells. These cells are then analyzed in a lab.
  • Biopsy. This test removes a small bit of abnormal tissue for testing in a lab.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)**. **This imaging test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to capture pictures inside of your body. It can detect anal cancer and help your healthcare provider determine the extent of the disease.

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