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Anal Cancer (cont.)

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Is it possible to prevent anal cancer?

About 90% of anal squamous cell carcinoma occurs in patients with detectable evidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Preventive steps of demonstrable benefit include:

  • Receive HPV vaccination
  • Avoidance of high risk behaviors which increase the risk of or facilitate the acquisition of HPV infection such as having multiple sexual partners and engaging in receptive anal intercourse
  • Perform anal pap testing in patients with a past history of carcinomas of the cervix, vagina, or vulva (These increase the risk of anal cancer three-fold. Detection and treatment of precancerous lesions can reduce the risk that these patients will require treatment for anal cancer in the future.)
  • Stop smoking, since smoking increases the risk of anal cancer
  • Avoid high risk behaviors for the acquisition of HIV disease (Chronic immunosuppression in men who have sex with men increases the risk of anal cancer 30-fold.)
  • Carefully monitor transplant recipients on immunosuppressant drugs with anal pap smears as discussed (Transplant recipients have a three-fold increased risk of anal cancer.)

What is the prognosis for anal cancer?

Anal cancer is usually curable when found localized. Early detection remains the key to long-term survival as it is in many forms of cancer. The five-year survival rates by anal cancer stage and cell type include:

  • Squamous cell: 71% for stage I, 64% for stage II, 48% for stage IIIA, 43% for stage IIIB, and 21% for stage IV
  • Non-squamous: 59% for stage I, 53% for stage II, 38% for stage IIIA, 24% for stage IIIB, and 7% for stage IV

Where can one find information about clinical trials or research for anal cancer?

There is ongoing research in the treatment of anal cancer. Visit for information on clinical trials and patient eligibility.


"NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Anal Carcinoma." Version 1.2017.

"PDQ National Cancer Institute Summaries: Anal Cancer." Updated 2017.

"Anal Cancer." American Cancer Society.

Edge, S.B., et al. "Anal Cancer." AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. Springer. New York, NY. 2010.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/28/2017



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