Treatment Options

Treatment Options

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.

Newly Diagnosed

Studies show that the first treatment you receive for cancer is by far the most important. Anal cancer is a rare and serious diagnosis. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has the experience and specialists to treat it.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cell. This is a standard treatment for anal cancer.

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is a precise form of radiation treatment that targets protons at tumors to kill cancer cells, while significantly limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.


People with localized anal cancer have chemotherapy along with radiation 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.