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Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is considered a rare type of cancer.

The experts at OhioHealth Cancer Care know how to treat it.

Very little can prepare you for the moment you hear you have anal cancer.

Your diagnosis is undoubtedly accompanied by a flood of feelings, questions and worries.

We want you to know there is hope. And help. Our Cancer Care Team will be with you every step of the way as you navigate this new, unfamiliar and sometimes confusing chapter in your life, with clinical expertise and compassionate understanding; providing you the precise care, and caring, you need.

As questions arise throughout your Care Plan — whether they are about treatment for anal cancer, clinical trials that may be available, resources for support and more — we are here to answer any and all of them.

Anal Cancer Basics Treatments and Procedures

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is anal cancer and what causes it?


    Anal cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the anus. The anus is the passage that connects the large intestine to the outside of the body. It is not known what causes anal cancer; however, there are risk factors that can increase the chances of getting the disease, including the human papillomavirus (HPV).

    You can always talk with your doctor or anyone on your OhioHealth Cancer Care team to learn more about anal cancer and its likely causes.

  • Q: Is anal cancer treatable?

    A: Anal cancer is treatable. The kind of treatment you’ll receive typically depends on the size and location of your tumor and whether or not it has spread. Your doctor can discuss available treatment options with you as well as expected results.
  • Q: Does OhioHealth treat anal cancer?

    A: Yes. We provide anal cancer patients with the best care available in the battle of this serious disease. We have an experienced team of doctors who specialize in anal cancer treatment.
  • Q: How serious is my anal cancer?


    We understand this is the biggest question for someone newly diagnosed with any cancer. The answer you’re looking for, however, is individual to you — just as it is individual to other anal cancer patients — and so cannot be generalized in an FAQ.

    At OhioHealth, we have the advanced technology to diagnose and treat this disease. We have highly skilled and experienced physicians who know how to fight it.

    It’s important to talk to your doctor about the seriousness of your anal cancer with a friend or family member present to help you hear and remember the information your doctor shares with you. Ask your doctor to explain the stage your cancer is in and what that means for your treatment and recovery. Share with your doctor your fears and concerns. Ask for information about support groups.

  • Q: What are the different stages of anal cancer?


    According to the National Cancer Institute, anal cancer is staged as follows:

    Stage I
    In stage I, cancer has formed and the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.

    Stage II
    In stage II, the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters.

    Stage IIIA
    In stage IIIA, the tumor may be any size and has spread to either:

    • lymph nodes near the rectum; or
    • nearby organs, such as the vagina, urethra, and bladder.

    Stage IIIB
    In stage IIIB, the tumor may be any size and has spread:

    • to nearby organs and to lymph nodes near the rectum; or
    • to lymph nodes on one side of the pelvis and/or groin, and may have spread to nearby organs; or
    • to lymph nodes near the rectum and in the groin, and/or to lymph nodes on both sides of the pelvis and/or groin, and may have spread to nearby organs.

    Stage IV
    In stage IV, the tumor may be any size and cancer may have spread to lymph nodes or nearby organs and has spread to distant parts of the body.

    Recurrent anal cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the anus or in other parts of the body.

  • Q: What treatment options are available to me for anal cancer, and how will they affect my daily life?


    Your cancer care team will assess your anal cancer condition and determine the most appropriate option(s) for treating it. Those options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these treatments. Your cancer care team will talk you through the details of your treatment plan so you understand how it will affect your daily life.

    While in treatment for anal cancer, patients tend to experience discomfort associated with a bowel movement. This side effect may affect your daily life and is a topic to discuss with your doctor. Every cancer patient is unique in how his or her body experiences treatment, which is why it’s best to discuss your treatment plan and possible side effects openly with your doctor.

    To learn more about anal cancer treatments, turn to the National Cancer Institute’s overview on this topic.

  • Q: Will surgery be part of my treatment for anal cancer?


    Many people with anal cancer can be successfully treated with chemotherapy and radiation alone; however, if surgery is the best solution, your OhioHealth Cancer Care team will work closely with you to explain what the procedure will involve.

    Whether or not surgery is considered a part of your treatment will depend on the stage of your anal cancer, your health condition and other factors. Your doctor, as well as others on your OhioHealth Cancer Care team, will work closely with you in determining the best treatment options for your cancer condition.

  • Q: What is a colostomy? Will I have one?


    A colostomy is a new pathway a surgeon creates into the colon from outside the body via an opening called a stoma. It’s created when parts of the colon have been surgically removed and bowel movements through the rectum and anus are no longer possible. The solid waste passes through this new pathway and collects in a disposable bag outside the body.

    Your OhioHealth Cancer Care doctor will talk through all the treatment options available to you when you meet to discuss your treatment plan. Whether or not a colostomy is a part of your anal cancer treatment plan is a question to explore with your doctor at that time.

Want more answers? Browse all of the OhioHealth cancer patient FAQs. General FAQ

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