May 24, 2023
Anal cancer is a rare type of cancer that develops in the tissues of the anus and is mostly caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The American Cancer Society reveals that there will be approximately 9,760 new anal cancer cases in the United States in 2023.
Once a cancer diagnosis is confirmed, staging becomes a crucial part to determine the most effective course of treatment depending on the spread of the disease. Read on to learn more about the stages of anal cancer and its treatment options.
Staging for anal cancer involves the TNM system, recommended by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). The term TNM is an acronym for Tumor, Node, and Metastases. T determines the tumor size and is measured as T1, T2, T3, or T4.
N indicates the involvement of lymph nodes in anal cancer. It is measured as N0, N1, N2, or N3.
M indicates metastasized cancer or how farthe disease has spread. It is categorized as M0 or M1.
After assessing the tumor, nodes, and metastases, a healthcare provider determines the stage, ranging from 0 to IV.
It is an early stage of anal cancer, also known as carcinoma in situ (CIS). At this stage, cancerous cells are only found in the top layers of the anal lining and have not spread to other tissues.
However, the disease has not spread to lymph nodes or distant body parts (N0 and M0).
Depending on the size of the tumor and the spread of the cancer, stage II is divided into two parts- stage 2A and stage 2B.
This stage has 3 subcategories- 3A, 3B, and 3C.
At this stage, the tumor can be of any size and may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes (any T, any N). But the cancer has started spreading to distant organs, such as the liver or the lungs (M1).
It is a common option, particularly for early-stage anal cancer (stages 0 to 2). Depending on the location and size of the tumor and cancerous cells, surgeons may perform a local excision or an abdominoperineal resection. While local excision involves the removal of the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue, abdominoperineal resection involves the removal of the anus, rectum, and nearby lymph nodes.
In some cases, oncologists may recommend surgery in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
It is another common treatment option for anal cancer, particularly at stages 1 to 3. In the early-stage, doctors recommend radiation as the primary treatment, while in more advanced cases, they often use it in combination with chemotherapy or surgery. Depending on the stage, radiation therapy can be administered externally or internally.
It is more commonly used for advanced cases (stages 2 to 4). Oncologists may administer it with radiation therapy or surgery or use it as the primary treatment for inoperable or metastatic cancer. There are two ways to administer chemotherapy: orally or intravenously (intravenously).
It is a relatively new type of cancer treatment that helps the immune system recognize and attack cancerous cells. Although it is not yet widely used in anal cancer treatment, immunotherapy may be an option in more advanced stages (stage 4), where chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not effective.
The treatment approach for anal cancer depends on a variety of factors, including the stage and location of the cancer, the patient's overall health, as well as their personal preferences. Individuals should discuss all possible treatment options with their healthcare provider to determine the appropriate course of action for their situation.
The survival rate depends on the stage at which cancer is diagnosed. Based on data from the American Cancer Society, the following is the 5-year survival rate for anal cancer.
Anal cancer has a high recurrence rate and in 30-50% of cases, it returns. This cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and this virus often remains in the body even after initial treatment. Besides, the area is difficult to treat and access, making it difficult to remove cancerous cells or tumors completely.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming. However, individuals can regain some sense of control by actively participating in their treatment plan. Stay informed about anal cancer symptoms and keep regular updates on the latest treatment procedures or clinical trials. This will enable individuals to make informed decisions at every step of their treatment. It is crucial to speak to the doctor about all possible treatment options, expected prognosis, and possible side effects of the treatments. Also, stay connected with friends and family to receive emotional support during difficult times. Individuals can also consult a counselor or medical social worker or join a support group.
For any queries or concerns about anal cancer, contact ACTC, one of the best cancer treatment centers in Florida. Contact us at 352-345-4565 or visit our website to schedule an appointment with our board-certified oncologists.