What is anal cancer?

Anal cancer is a rare cancer that starts in the anus. This is the opening at the very end of the large bowel. 

Anal cancer symptoms

Symptoms of anal cancer can include bleeding, bowel changes and severe itching (pruritus). These can also be symptoms of other conditions, but it's important to see your doctor.

Getting diagnosed with anal cancer

You usually start by seeing your GP if you have symptoms that could be due to anal cancer. They will ask you about your general health and may also examine you. Your doctor will then decide whether to do tests or refer you to a specialist.



Survival depends on the stage of your anal cancer. 

Treatment for anal cancer

Your treatment depends on several factors. The main treatments for anal cancer are surgery, and radiotherapy and chemotherapy combined (chemoradiotherapy).

Stages and types of anal cancer

The stage of anal cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. The type tells you which type of cell the cancer started in.


Research and clinical trials

Research is looking at screening for anal cancer, and possible ways of improving treatment. Find out about clinical trials looking into anal cancer. 

Living with anal cancer

Getting practical and emotional support can help you cope with a diagnosis of cancer, life during treatment and life after cancer.

Risks and causes

Many anal cancers are linked to lifestyle or other risk factors. Having these risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.

Last reviewed: 
16 Jun 2022
Next review due: 
16 Jun 2025
Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer