Cancer is complex — there is no routine anal cancer, nor is there a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James physicians are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach.

At the OSUCCC – James, anal cancer patients have a team of experts that includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, gastroenterologists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are anal cancer researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Many of our experts also help write the national clinical guidelines for treatments.

As one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.

There are several types of treatment for anal cancer. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual anal cancer.

Treatment Options for Anal Cancer

The following treatments are available to treat anal cancer:


Surgery is often a primary treatment for anal cancer. Tumors and any part of the diseased tissue will be removed during surgery. For many patients, surgery is combined with other types of treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Depending on the location, type and size of your tumor, your surgeon will most likely decide between one of two surgeries:

Local Resection

If the tumor is small and has not spread, your surgeon may choose to remove the tumor and some of the tissue surrounding the anus. The muscles surrounding the area are spared if possible to allow control of bowel movements after recovery.

Abdominoperineal Resection

In this procedure, a surgeon removes the anus, rectum and part of the colon. The intestine is redirected to an opening in the abdomen, called a stoma. A special bag is attached to the stoma to collect waste, in lieu of the body’s normal bowel movements. 

During surgery, the surgeon may also remove lymph nodes surrounding the area to determine whether they contain cancer. This type of surgery is often required for large tumors or those that have grown into the abdominal wall. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses X-rays to reach and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is often used to treat specific areas of the body. The type and method of radiation given will depend on the stage of disease.

There are two types of radiation therapy use for anal cancer treatment:

External Radiation Therapy 

External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.

Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal tadiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.

The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.


Chemotherapy uses specialized drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by destroying the cells or by preventing them from making new cells. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Anal Cancer Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, metastasize or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

If you have received an anal cancer diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to an anal cancer specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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