Anal cancer occurs when abnormal, rapidly multiplying cells settle in the ring of muscles (anal sphincters) that helps control bowel movements. It is more likely to happen in people with certain viruses and sexually transmitted infections.
If you are at risk or experiencing worrisome symptoms, you’ll find leading care at Memorial Cancer Institute. Our experience treating a high volume of patients helps us successfully care for common and complex cases.
Diagnosing Anal Cancer
Timely assessments are essential to successful anal cancer treatment, which is why we see new patients quickly. Many people undergo expert consultation and imaging studies during the same visit when necessary. You may meet with multiple anal cancer specialists on the same day, including surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.
We conduct a thorough exam to get to the source of your symptoms. If you have undergone testing at another institution, we review the results and determine whether additional studies are necessary. A pathologist (doctor who analyzes lab studies) specializing in GI cancers helps us confirm the diagnosis.
Anal Cancer Treatments and Support
Many patients with early-stage anal cancer achieve excellent results with radiation therapy and may not need surgery. We often use external beam radiation therapy, which delivers focused radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Our highly skilled radiation oncologists coordinate treatments to target cancerous growths while sparing nearby nerves and organs.
Sometimes the cancer does not respond to radiation treatments. In this case, you may be eligible for surgery (abdominoperineal resection). This lifesaving procedure removes the anus and rectum. It requires a permanent ostomy (hole in the abdominal wall through which stool exits the body).
Another option for advanced cases is immunotherapy. Care may include existing options or clinical trials evaluating new types of immunotherapy agents. This innovative medical oncology option helps the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. You may be eligible for immunotherapy if cancer comes back after treatment.
Supportive Therapies and Services for Anal Cancer
It’s natural to be anxious during anal cancer treatment. Lingering side effects can be uncomfortable. We offer many supportive services to help you find comfort and peace of mind. If you have an ostomy, specially trained nurses show you how to care for it and provide support between appointments. Explore our cancer support services.
Anal Cancer Care: Why Choose Memorial Cancer Institute?
here’s no reason to feel self-conscious or embarrassed about anal cancer symptoms. Our compassionate team is easy to talk to, so you can focus on getting better. We deliver exceptional care and support services that help you move forward with your life.
Highlights of our program include:
- Multidisciplinary approach: You have access to an entire team of anal cancer specialists under one roof. Surgeons who stay current with the latest anal cancer research guide your care. They work with experts in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, imaging and pathology. We meet regularly to coordinate services and tailor therapies to your needs.
- Customized care: You receive an individualized care plan reflecting your medical needs and personal preferences. Many patients get better with nonsurgical anal cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy. We maintain prestigious American College of Radiology (ACR®) accreditation for our commitment to safety and quality.
- Surgical expertise: When surgery is necessary, nationally recognized experts perform your procedure. We use advanced techniques that offer the best chances of maintaining control of your bowels. Even if cancer spreads to other areas, such as your liver or lungs, we can help you.
- Coordination of services: Our patient navigators are by your side throughout your care journey. These specially trained oncology nurses answer your questions, coordinate appointments and keep therapies moving forward. If you may be eligible for a clinical trial, navigators connect you with research specialists to learn more.