Anal Cancer Treatment


At the end of the large intestine right below the rectum is the anus, which is the area where stool from the body passes during a bowel movement. While pretty uncommon, cancers of the anus can develop. Approximately 5,200 new cases of anal cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year and for some reason this type of cancer is more likely to affect more women (3,200 cases) then men (2,000 cases).

Treatment Options

Treatment options for anal cancer depend on the stage of the cancer, where exactly the tumor is located in the anus and whether or not the patient is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A treatment regimen may include one or more of the following:

Previously the standard treatment of choice for anal cancer, but no longer the case, is surgery to remove the tumor. Now most anal cancers are treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
However, if surgery is needed, the type of procedure needed depends on the location and type of tumor in the anus. A local resection is usually completed when only the tumor, plus a small area around it needs to be removed. This type of surgery allows a bowel movement to still take place normally following the procedure. If the tumor is large in size, an abdominoperineal resection may be needed. In this procedure, both the anus and the rectum are removed, and a new opening is made at the end of the abdomen so that stool can be released through a bag that is attached to the body. This procedure is usually reserved for those tumors that do not respond or recur following radiation and chemotherapy.
Radiation Therapy
Given externally or internally, radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays to kill and destroy the anal cancer cells. It is usually used in combination with chemotherapy to treat this type of cancer.
When used in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy may help eradicate the anal tumor without the need for surgery. The main chemotherapeutic agents used to treat anal cancer are typically a combination of 5-fluorouracil with mitomycin or cisplatin.


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