Anal cancer affects the anus, which is the last portion of the large intestine. As stool leaves the body, it passes from the rectum through the anal canal and out the anal opening. Most cases of anal cancer develop from cells in the mucosa, which is the anal canal’s inner lining.

Anal cancer is rare but increasing, and anal cancer causes are unclear. However, most cases involve human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Experts consider a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy to be the best available treatment for anal cancer. This combination therapy leads to a cure in many cases.

Anal cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

Markey's anal cancer team provides expert consultation and ongoing care for patients with cancers of the anus.

Using state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge medical and surgical interventions, the anal cancer team provides advanced and timely diagnosis and individualized, ongoing care for patients. Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Signs of anal cancer can vary and may include:

  • Anal or rectal bleeding
  • Discharge from the anus
  • Itching in or around the anus
  • Lump in the anal opening
  • More or fewer bowel movements than usual
  • Narrowed stools
  • Pain in or around the anus
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Swollen lymph glands around the anus or groin

It’s important to remember that not all individuals with the condition will have anal cancer symptoms. Some potential signs of anal cancer may actually be symptoms of hemorrhoids or another condition.

Outcomes for surgically treated anal cancer are excellent, and when localized to the anus, five-year relative survival rates are 82 percent. For more information about anal cancer survival rates, visit the American Cancer Society website.

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal, and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.

Most people who develop anal cancer also have an HPV infection. Other factors that can increase your risk for anal cancer include:

  • Anal sex
  • Anal warts
  • Chronic inflammation or open wounds of the anus
  • Having had cervical, vaginal or vulvar cancer, which are related to HPV
  • Having had radiation therapy to the pelvis as part of previous cancer treatment
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • HIV infection
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Smoking
  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Multidisciplinary Cclinic in the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Open Google Maps.
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.  

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. At Markey, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating anal cancer.

Markey Cancer Center is NCI-designated

The UK Markey Cancer Center was first designated by the National Cancer Institute in 2013 – a distinction that recognizes our extraordinary ability to provide world-class care for our patients. We are the only NCI-designated cancer center in Kentucky and one of only 71 in the nation.

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