Anal cancer is often curable if it’s diagnosed and treated before it spreads to distant organs. Doctors consider your cancer cured if it stays in remission for at least 5 years.
The lifetime chance of developing anal cancer is about
Anal cancer is often curable if it hasn’t spread to distant tissues when it’s diagnosed. Treatment is usually palliative if the cancer has spread to other locations like your lungs or liver. “Palliative” means your treatment focuses on managing symptoms and improving your quality of life instead of curing the cancer.
Read on to learn more about how anal cancer is treated and when it’s usually curable.
When doctors say your cancer is cured, they usually mean that your cancer has gone away and isn’t expected to return.
If your treatment is working, a doctor may tell you that you’re in remission. “Remission” means the signs and symptoms of your cancer are reduced. If they go away completely, doctors say that you’re in complete remission.
Doctors often consider your cancer cured if you’re in complete remission for at least
Doctors will likely want to continue testing you beyond this period since there’s still a small chance that the cancer could come back.
Anal cancer can spread to surrounding tissues or distant parts of your body.
Doctors divide your cancer into stages depending on how far your cancer has spread. Doctors most often use the
|Stage 0 is considered precancerous. Cells are only found in the inner layer of your anus.
|The tumor is smaller than about 2 centimeters (cm), or 0.8 inches (in), and hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant areas.
|In stage 2A, the cancer is no more than 5 cm (2 in) but hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
In stage 2B, the cancer is larger than 5 cm (2 in) but still hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
|In stage 3A, the cancer is between 2 cm (0.8 in) and 5 cm (2 in) and has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not distant sites.
In stage 3B, the cancer is any size and is spreading into nearby organs but hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
In stage 3C, the cancer is larger than 5 cm (2 in) and has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not distant sites.
|The cancer can be any size and has spread to distant organs such as your lungs and liver. It may also have spread to nearby lymph nodes and nearby organs.
Treatment for stage 0 to 3 anal cancer usually aims at curing the cancer. Stage 4 cancer is very difficult to cure, and treatment usually revolves around trying to manage your signs and symptoms.
Learn more about anal cancer stages.
The outlook for people with anal cancer is generally
They report the following survival rates from 2011 to 2017 in the United States:
|Approximate AJCC equivalent
|5-year relative survival rate
|Stage 1 or 2
|All stages combined
- younger age and better overall health
- being assigned female at birth
- having a
lower HPV load
- having higher white blood cell or red blood cell counts before treatment
Learn more about the outlook for people with anal cancer.
At what stage is anal cancer not curable?
How often does anal cancer return?
Where does anal cancer typically spread to?
Anal cancer may spread to distant
- distant lymph nodes
- peritoneum, the tissue that lines your abdominal wall and pelvic cavity
Is anal cancer slow- or fast-growing?
The rate of growth of anal cancer is
Anal cancer is often curable if it’s diagnosed and treated before it spreads to your distant organs. Treatment for early stage anal cancer usually focuses on trying to cure the cancer.
Cancer that has spread to distant areas is called stage 4 anal cancer. Treatment for stage 4 anal cancer usually focuses on minimizing your symptoms and improving your quality of life as opposed to curing the cancer.