Once you have been diagnosed with anal cancer, your multidisciplinary care team will work with you to customize a comprehensive treatment plan for your needs. Your individualized plan will include evidence-based medical treatments and technologies, as well as supportive care services designed to help you manage side effects.
In the past, surgery was the only treatment for anal cancer, but today, the disease is often treated with a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery remains an option for early-stage anal cancer, particularly stage 0, and some stage I and II anal cancers.
Typically, two surgical procedures are used to treat anal cancer, depending on the type and location of the tumor:
A combination of radiation and chemotherapy, mainly performed for anal preservation, may be recommended as an alternative to surgery that results in a permanent colostomy, which requires a bag attached to the abdomen to collect stool.
Chemotherapy drugs, given intravenously or orally, target cancer cells to destroy them or impede their ability to grow and reproduce, while radiation therapy allows radiation oncologists to target difficult-to-reach tumors. Higher doses of radiation may be directed at anal cancer cells while reducing exposure to healthy tissue.
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