Types of Anal Cancer

There are several types of anal cancer that can develop in or on the anus. Anal tissue is made up of various types of cells, all of which can potentially undergo a series of slow changes that can cause them to eventually become cancerous. Anal cancer begins when formerly healthy cells start to grow uncontrollably or don’t die when they should. The resulting accumulation of cells can form a mass, or tumor, which can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Some benign tumors will go away on their own without treatment; others can continue to grow but, unlike malignant tumors, will not spread to other areas of the body.

The various types of anal cancer are classified based on the kind of cell where the malignancy originated:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma – Forms in the outer lining of the anal canal (the most common type)
  • Cloacogenic carcinoma – Forms between the outer part of the anus and the lower section of the rectum
  • Adenocarcinoma – Forms in the mucus-producing glands in the anal lining
  • Basal cell carcinoma – Forms in the perianal skin surrounding the anus
  • Melanoma – Forms in the pigment-producing cells in the anal lining

Noncancerous growths, such as warts and polyps, can also develop in the anus. Because these growths can sometimes become cancerous, a physician may recommend removing the precancerous tissue as a precautionary measure.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we take a unique, multispecialty approach to treating anal cancer. Our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program is home to a multispecialty tumor board that meets weekly to monitor each patient’s progress and modify the patient’s treatment plan as necessary.

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of anal cancer, the experts at Moffitt can help. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.