If you have been diagnosed with anal cancer, you should know that most people with this disease are cured, especially if their cancer is diagnosed early. No matter what type or stage of anal cancer you have, treatments are available.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: If you have this type of cancer and it started in the outer lining of your anal canal, it’s treated according to the guidelines in this anal cancer section.
- Adenocarcinoma: When this type of cancer starts in the anus, it’s treated like rectal cancer.
- Skin cancer: If you have cancer that started in the skin around your anus (whether it’s squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma or melanoma), it’s treated like skin cancer in other parts of the body.
Most people with anal cancer have a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, called chemoradiation. This combination may cure anal cancer, without the need for surgery. Some people have surgery, too.
Remember, each person’s cancer is different, as are his or her circumstances, preferences, and beliefs. A treatment that works well for another person may not be right for you. Your team will explain your options and recommend a treatment plan that’s tailored to you.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cell. This is a standard treatment for anal cancer.
People with localized anal cancer have chemotherapy along with radation treatment. Those with metastatic anal cancer may have chemotherapy alone, without radiation.
Surgery is not the standard treatment for most people with anal cancer. But for some people, it may be a useful option—if the cancer doesn’t respond to chemoradiation, or if it comes back.