Charlie’s Angel star and Pinup icon Farrah Fawcett was rehospitalized in Los Angeles with recurrence of anal cancer. She is said to be in critical condition. Ms. Fawcett was first diagnosed in October 2006, was treated with chemotherapy and surgery and was said to be cancer free 4 months later. However she had a recurrence of the disease in May 2007. She recently traveled to Germany to receive treatments which are not available in the U.S.
Although the anus is part of the lower intestinal tract, cancers of that area tend to be of a different type than what we call colorectal cancer. Anal cancer is usually a type that comes from skin (squamous) cells, rather than from the cells that line the intestines. Risk factors include a history of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, anal intercourse, smoking, and decreased immune system or HIV infection. Symptoms include bleeding, pain or lumps in the anal area or itching and discharge. Treatment depends on whether the tumor is localized or has spread to surrounding tissues or other parts of the body.