Different types of treatment have different goals. Below is a list of different anal cancer treatments and their goals. You may have more than one of these treatments:
Radiation therapy. The goal of this treatment is to kill cancer cells using X-rays. This is a common treatment for anal cancer. Radiation can be used with or without chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can cause the tumor to shrink. Chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy can cure most anal cancers without the need for surgery.
Surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor from the anus, while leaving as much of the anus as possible intact. In most cases, surgery for anal cancer is no longer needed.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with anal cancer, you may want to consider getting a second opinion. Some insurance companies require a second opinion for such diagnoses. According to the American Cancer Society, it is very rare that the time it will take to get a second opinion will have a negative impact on your treatment. The peace of mind a second opinion provides may be well worth the effort.
Research is ongoing in the field of anal cancer. New medicines and treatments are tested in clinical trials. You may also hear the term clinical study used to describe this type of research. Before starting treatment, ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should check on.