Anal cancer

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on July 14, 2021.

Anal cancer is rare. Our doctors are experts in rare cancers.

Anal cancer is a relatively rare disease that forms in the tissues of the anus, the opening at the end of the rectum (where the large intestine ends), which is connected to the outside of the body and through which stool passes. This cancer type has various forms, and incidence rates of the disease are on the rise. Women are at a slightly greater risk than men for developing anal cancer, which is found mostly in older adults, with the average age at diagnosis being early-60s, according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms include bleeding, persistent itching and recurring pain in the anal area.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our medical experts are trained and experienced in diagnosing and staging anal cancer. In order to diagnose the type and stage of your disease, our doctors may choose from a number of diagnostic tools, including a biopsy, CT scan, digital rectal exam or lab tests. We will then use that information to recommend a comprehensive treatment plan, explaining your options so you can make an informed decision about your care. To help support your quality of life, we will also help you manage pain or discomfort caused by the cancer, as well as nausea, neuropathy or other side effects that may result from treatment.

What you should know after an anal cancer diagnosis

Treatment options

female oncologist discussing treatment options with testicular cancer patient

Treating anal cancer often involves two or more approaches: radiation, surgery and/or chemotherapy. Your multidisciplinary care team will recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs, such as the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor in the anus, whether a recurrence has developed or whether cancer cells remain after first-line treatments.

Common treatment options for anal cancer include:

Surgery is most often a treatment option for early-stage anal cancer, particularly stage 0 and some stage 1 and 2 anal tumors.

Radiation therapy
This treatment is typically combined with chemotherapy to treat anal cancer.

Chemotherapy drugs, along with radiation therapy, are used mainly for tumors that could not be removed without damaging the sphincter.

Learn more about treatments for anal cancer

​Supportive care

A team of supportive care professionals collaborate with our physicians to help patients manage cancer-related side effects. This integrated care model helps us tend to the needs of the whole person, not just the cancer. Supportive care services recommended for anal cancer patients may include:


​Oncology rehabilitation

​Oncology rehabilitation includes a wide range of therapies designed to help you build strength and endurance.


​Nutritional support

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian.


Behavioral health

​Our behavioral health support program is designed to support you and your caregivers before, during and after cancer treatment.

Kim Andersen

Kim A.

Anal Cancer

"I believe I have a strong desire and will to live. Going through cancer treatment changed me for the better. It gave me a new perspective on life. I have made lifestyle changes, and my outlook on the future is optimistic."


More About KIM

New research

Offering clinical trials on new and emerging cancer treatment options.

View our clinical trials

What’s your risk?

Assess your cancer risk and take control

Assess your cancer risk

Insurance plans

We accept a wide range of insurance plans.

Verify your insurance