Treatment overview

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and where it is in the anus. Your doctors will have carried out various tests to help them plan your treatment.

It’s important that you have the chance to discuss treatments with your doctor. This will help you understand why a particular treatment has been suggested, and how the treatment may affect you.

The main treatment for anal cancer is a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This is called chemoradiotherapy. The treatments are usually given at the same time (concurrently). Combined treatment is usually very successful and most people don’t need any surgery.

Surgery may sometimes be used to relieve symptoms before chemoradiotherapy. If chemoradiotherapy doesn’t get rid of all the cancer or if there are signs that it has come back (recurred), surgery may sometimes be used. Small, early stage anal cancers are sometimes removed with surgery alone.

Radiotherapy is occasionally used on its own if you aren’t fit or well enough to have combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy may be used on its own to treat an advanced anal cancer.

Back to Understanding your diagnosis

Just been diagnosed

Just been diagnosed with cancer? We're here for you every step of the way. There are many ways we can help.

Staging and grading

Knowing the stage and grade of the anal cancer can help doctors plan your treatment.