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Anal Cancer Treatment

We make every effort to preserve the sphincter without affecting control of bowel movements, and we use all means possible to decrease the risk of a colostomy. However, if a colostomy is needed, highly qualified nurses help you make the transition and maintain your quality of life.

If you have anal cancer that has spread and/or have HIV or AIDS, we offer the most advanced treatments, as well as clinical trials of new agents.

Our Anal Cancer Treatments

Anal cancer often can be treated successfully with chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy. If the cancer has spread (metastasized), a combination of therapies including surgery as well as participation in a clinical trial may be suggested.

The team of specialists focusing on your care will discuss with you the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:

  • The stage of anal cancer
  • Location of the tumor in the anus
  • If you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other immunosuppressed condition
  • If the cancer has just been diagnosed or if it has returned after being treated
  • Your age and general health

Your treatment for anal cancer will be customized to your particular needs. Treatments for anal cancer, which may be used to fight the cancer or help relieve symptoms, may include:


Anal cancer surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. MD Anderson surgeons perform a large number of surgeries for anal cancer each year, using the most advanced techniques.

If surgery is needed to treat anal cancer, your surgeon may use one of the following procedures:

Local resection: The tumor, along with some of the tissue around it, is surgically removed.

Abdominoperineal resection (APR): The anus, the rectum and part of the colon are removed through an incision in the abdomen. The end of the intestine is attached to an opening (stoma) in the abdomen. Body waste leaves this opening and is collected in a plastic bag outside the body. This also is called a colostomy.


MD Anderson offers the most up-to-date and effective chemotherapy options to treat anal cancer.

Radiation Therapy

New radiation therapy techniques allow MD Anderson doctors to target anal cancer tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

Some anal cancers can be treated with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). This technique precisely targets the cancer and causes less damage to healthy tissue.

Targeted Therapies

MD Anderson is leading into the future of cancer treatment by developing innovative targeted therapies. These agents are specially designed to treat each cancer’s specific genetic/molecular profile to help your body fight the disease. Many of the doctors who treat cancer at MD Anderson are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials with novel targeted agents.

Treatment at MD Anderson

Anal cancer is treated in our Colorectal Center.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be
found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about anal cancer in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.


MD Anderson has licensed social workers to help patients and their loved ones cope with cancer.


Talk to someone who shares your cancer diagnosis and be matched with a survivor.

Prevention and Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening.