Treatment for anal cancer

Your treatment depends on several factors. These include what type of anal cancer you have, where it is in the anus (location), how big it is and whether it has spread (the stage). It also depends on your general health. 

The main treatments for anal cancer are surgery, and combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy). You may also have treatment to reduce the symptoms and help you feel better. A team of doctors and other professionals discuss the best treatment and care for you.

Preparing for treatment and life afterwards (prehabilitation)

There are things you can do to help you feel more in control of your physical and mental health when preparing for treatment. In the hospital, preparing for treatment is also called prehabilitation or prehab.

Treatment options for anal cancer

The treatment you have depends on several factors. Most people with anal cancer have radiotherapy and chemotherapy combined (chemoradiotherapy). 

Chemoradiotherapy for anal cancer

Chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy is called chemoradiotherapy. Chemoradiotherapy is the most common treatment for anal cancer if your cancer hasn't spread to other parts of your body.

Surgery for anal cancer

You might have surgery for very early stage anal cancer. Or you might have it if your cancer comes back or hasn't gone completely after chemoradiotherapy.

Chemotherapy for anal cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. You usually have chemotherapy on its own if your anal cancer has spread (advanced anal cancer).

Radiotherapy for anal cancer

Radiotherapy is a common treatment for anal cancer. It uses high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells.  For anal cancer, you usually have external radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy). 


Follow up after anal cancer treatment

After treatment, you have regular check ups at the hospital. You might also have tests. Over time, these appointments become less frequent. 

Last reviewed: 
16 Jun 2022
Next review due: 
16 Jun 2025