Chemotherapy for anal cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs disrupt the growth of cancer cells, but they also affect normal cells. The chemotherapy drugs are usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously) or as tablets.

For people with anal cancer, chemotherapy is usually given in combination with radiotherapy (chemoradiation). Chemotherapy can also be used on its own if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It may help control the cancer and improve symptoms.

The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for anal cancer are:

Other drugs that may be used are:

Back to Chemotherapy explained

When is chemotherapy used?

Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells in the body. Your doctor will explain if chemotherapy is advised for you.

How do chemotherapy drugs work?

Chemotherapy drugs work by stopping cancer cells reproducing. The drugs can also affect healthy cells, causing side effects.