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Anal Cancer

  201-227-6008    |      cancer@holyname.org

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Anal cancer occurs in the anal canal. It arises in the lining of the anus, which is like skin. It is different than rectal cancer, which develops in the lining at the end of the intestine.

Approximately 8,800 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with anal cancer each year; two-thirds of them are women. A history of infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) increases the risk of developing anal cancer.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and skilled medical oncologists, colorectal surgeons, radiation oncologists, nurses and support staff to treat anal cancer. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum
  • Pain in the area of the anus
  • A lump or mass in the anal area
  • A non-healing wound in the anal area
  • Anal itching

Risk Factors

  • Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • Cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva or penis
  • HIV infection
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Anal intercourse
  • Smoking


  • Physical exam
  • Anoscopy
  • Anal ultrasound
  • Biopsy


Most often, anal cancer is treated with chemotherapy and radiation, a combination that is typically very successful in curing the disease. Treatment doesn't usually involve surgery unless the cancer has been caught early enough that it can be removed entirely, which is rare.