Anal Cancer Treatment
The treatment for anal cancer depends on whether the cancer has spread to tissue around the anus. A person with anal cancer may undergo surgery to remove a small tumor, while chemotherapy or radiation therapy is used to treat tumors that have spread beyond the anus. Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly growing cancer cells. Radiation therapy uses x-ray beams to destroy cancer cells. A course of radiation therapy and chemotherapy may require weeks or months.
A person with a large anal cancer tumor may require surgery to remove the entire anus. In this case, the surgeon connects the end of the intestine to the abdominal wall, forming a colostomy. Stool passes through the colostomy, and is collected in a bag that is attached to the abdomen.
Treatment for anal cancer may include:
- Surgery for anal cancer:
- Focuses on removal of tumor and preservation of bowel function
- Approach depends on cancer stage (extent of spread)
- Chemotherapy for anal cancer:
- The administration of medicines that kill cancer cells.
- Fluorouracil (5-FU, Fluorouracil, Adrucil)
- Vincristine (Vincasar PFS, Oncovin)
- Leucovorin (Wellcovorin)
- Irinotecan (Camptosar, Camptothecin-11, CPT-11)
- Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
- Cetuximab (Erbitux)
- Bevacizumab (Avastin)
- Panitumumab (Vectibix)
- Radiation therapy for anal cancer:
- Exposing cancer cells to radiation can kill them.
- May also be delivered in the operating room during surgery
Anal Cancer Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of anal cancer.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- Do I need a special exercise program?
- Will I need physical therapy?
- Will I need occupational therapy?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
- Are my children at risk for this condition?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Anal Cancer Specialist
Anal Cancer Surgery
There are two main types of surgery for anal cancer:
- Local surgery:
- Removes the tumor from the anus without opening the abdomen.
- This is performed when the cancer is confined to the tissues of the anus.
- Abdominal surgery:
Continue to Anal Cancer Home Care
- Clark MA, Hartley A, Geh JI. Cancer of the anal canal. Lancet Oncol. 2004 Mar;5(3):149-57. 
- Sato H, Koh PK, Bartolo DC. Management of anal canal cancer. Dis Colon Rectum. 2005 Jun;48(6):1301-15. 
- Welton ML, Sharkey FE, Kahlenberg MS. The etiology and epidemiology of anal cancer. Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 2004 Apr;13(2):263-75.