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Anal Cancer


Anal cancer is a rare disease that requires specialized expertise. The gastrointestinal cancer experts at the Abramson Cancer Center lead the nation in anal cancer treatment. Our team approach translates to exceptional care that’s highly personalized for you.

About Anal Cancer

Anal cancer occurs when cells start to grow abnormally in the anus (the tube at the very end of the GI tract where stool leaves the body).

Most cases of this rare cancer result from human papillomavirus (HPV), a common infection that spreads through sexual contact. Getting an HPV vaccine can lower your risk of developing anal cancer.

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Why Choose the Abramson Cancer Center for Anal Cancer Care?

At Penn Medicine, our entire team is passionate about providing patient-focused care. We stay by your side, guiding you to the tests, treatments or support services you need to help you manage an anal cancer diagnosis.

Our easy-to-navigate patient portal offers direct access to our physicians and your entire treatment team. You can always get timely answers to questions or concerns, whenever they come up.

When you choose us, you can also expect:

  • Highly skilled experts: Our board-certified doctors and surgeons have subspecialty fellowship training in treating anal and similar cancers of the digestive tract. Our experts follow evolving cancer research and participate in a wide range of clinical trials, offering options for advanced disease. Meet our GI cancer team.
  • Leading treatment options: We offer the latest anal cancer therapies, including cancer drug innovations such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy and the latest radiation treatments. Learn more about some of Penn’s innovative GI cancer treatments.
  • Precise diagnosis: Our doctors treat more anal cancer patients than many other centers, so we have a high level of expertise in diagnosing this rare disease. Our pathologists specialize in GI cancer, ensuring an accurate diagnosis that helps guide our team to the right treatments for you. Learn more about GI cancer diagnosis.
  • Team approach: Cancer affects everyone differently. At Penn, your treatment is coordinated by medical oncologists, colorectal surgeons, and radiation oncologists who collaborate on your treatment plan. A wealth of expertise goes into every recommendation we make.
  • One-on-one support: Our GI oncology nurse navigators help you get seen by the appropriate specialists quickly, coordinate appointments and guide you through the treatment process. Learn more about navigating GI cancer.
  • Trusted care, close to home: Our GI cancer program is based at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. You can also receive expert anal cancer care at Penn-affiliated hospitals and outpatient centers throughout the region.

Our Approach to Anal Cancer Treatment: The Penn Medicine Advantage

Recent research advances have improved anal cancer treatment in many ways. We recommend treatments that are specific to the type of cancer you have as well as your circumstances, goals and needs.

Anal cancer treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy: These medications work throughout the body to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. Chemoradiotherapy (a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy used at the same time) may cure many early-stage anal cancers.
  • Immunotherapy: These drugs use the power of your body’s immune system to treat cancer.
  • Targeted therapy: These medications target specific changes in cancer cells that allow them to grow and spread. We use specialized tests to match you with therapies that are right for you.
  • Radiation therapy: Our radiation oncologists are experts in using radiation beams to target precise areas of cancer, sparing nearby healthy tissues and limiting side effects.
  • Surgery: Our colorectal surgeons specialize in anal cancer surgery, performing complex procedures to treat advanced disease. Minimally invasive surgical techniques help many patients experience less pain and get back to their normal routines sooner.
  • Clinical trials: Our robust research program helps us offer more treatment options, including some therapies that are only available through clinical trials. Read about our GI cancer research.
  • Supportive care: Cancer care is more than treating a disease. We listen to your concerns and provide resources to help you overcome any treatment challenges. Learn more about GI cancer support services.

Comprehensive Anal Cancer Surveillance

Anal cancer sometimes recurs (comes back) after successful treatment. Our team develops a personalized follow-up plan, including regular screenings and check-ups, to fit your situation.

Monitoring your health closely helps us detect a potential problem or cancer recurrence when it’s easier to treat. A special program for GI cancer patients who have had radiation therapy streamlines your long-term follow-up and helps you stay well after treatment ends.

Request an Appointment

Call 215-615-5858 to speak with a cancer center representative who can guide you to the right anal cancer expert for your needs. You can also request an appointment online.