Anal cancer surgery is one of three standard treatments generally recommended for cancers of the anus. While the optimal approach can vary based on the stage of the cancer and other factors, most patients are advised to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination thereof. In some cases, an initial course of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or chemoradiation is administered to attempt to shrink a tumor and minimize the extent of the surgery required, which can sometimes eliminate the need for anal cancer surgery altogether. For this reason and others, it’s important for a patient to explore all possible treatment options.
Patients can receive highly individualized cancer treatment, including the latest techniques in anal cancer surgery, at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our world-class Gastrointestinal Oncology Program offers the most advanced treatments available anywhere. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we perform groundbreaking research studies and clinical trials that continue to raise the bar for the treatment and support of all cancer patients.
Moffitt also offers a clear advantage in terms of surgical expertise. Based on patient volume, we’re one of the largest cancer centers in the nation. This is particularly important because anal cancer is relatively rare. As a result, many low-volume cancer centers see only a few cases and perform only a handful of anal cancer surgery procedures each year. In contrast, Moffitt has helped thousands of patients fight anal cancer and live higher-quality lives. Simply put, numbers matter.
How is anal cancer treated surgically?
At Moffitt, each patient’s treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation by a multispecialty tumor board. If these experts collaboratively determine that anal cancer surgery is appropriate, our highly experienced surgeons can perform:
- Local resection – This minimally invasive approach can be effective for addressing small, localized tumors that form in the lower part of the anus. In general, a surgeon removes a tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue and may be able to preserve the function of the sphincter muscles, thus allowing the patient to maintain bowel control.
- Abdominoperineal resection – If a tumor has spread or a patient has poor sphincter function, a surgeon may remove the anus, rectum and part of the colon through an incision made in the patient’s abdomen. To facilitate the flow of solid waste from the body, the surgeon can create an opening in the abdominal wall (stoma) and attach the end of the large intestine, then cover the opening with a bag (colostomy) to collect the waste.
Following anal cancer surgery, a patient’s progress is continually monitored by Moffitt’s tumor board. When necessary, the treatment plan is revised, and the patient is also informed of new and better options as they become available.