Your Treatment Team for Anal Cancer
The Anal Tumor Team offers a full-range of state-of-the-art diagnostic services and advanced treatment options, including a high-volume surgery service, novel combination chemotherapy and molecular targeted therapy, and radiation oncology.
Different types of treatments are available for patients with anal cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Before starting treatment, patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.
Local resection: A surgical procedure in which the tumor is cut from the anus along with some of the healthy tissue around it. Local resection may be used if the cancer is small and has not spread. This procedure may save the sphincter muscles so the patient can still control bowel movements. Tumors that develop in the lower part of the anus can often be removed with local resection.
Abdominoperineal resection: A surgical procedure in which the anus, the rectum, and part of the sigmoid colon are removed through an incision made in the abdomen. The doctor sews the end of the intestine to an opening, called a stoma, made in the surface of the abdomen so body waste can be collected in a disposable bag outside of the body. This is called a colostomy. Lymph nodes that contain cancer may also be removed during this operation. Anal cancer surgery with colostomy. The anus, rectum, and part of the colon are removed, a stoma is created, and a colostomy bag is attached to the stoma.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).
When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy:
- External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.
- Internal radiation 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.
Having the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can affect treatment of anal cancer. Cancer therapy can further damage the already weakened immune systems of patients who have HIV. For this reason, patients who have anal cancer and HIV are usually treated with lower doses of anticancer drugs and radiation than patients who do not have HIV.
Clinical Research Trials
Moffitt Cancer Center is involved in extensive research studies that promote the prevention and cure of cancer. The GI Tumor Team participates in ongoing clinical trials and research projects designed to improve patient outcomes.
Moffitt's Anal Tumor Team is studying the biology of anal cancer with the aim of translating scientific discoveries into new drug therapies. Through participation in clinical trials cancer patients are helping clinicians develop new standards of care for diseases that currently have few successful therapies.
The GI Oncology Program supports landmark research in drug discovery, surgery, molecular therapy, immune therapy, endoscopy, risk assessment and detection. Breakthrough discoveries in the lab become early stage translational research studies and then patient clinical trials. Moffitt is known for its cutting-edge research in personalized medicine, which designs targeted treatments that improve patient outcomes, reduce side effects and prevent disease recurrence.
Treatment for Pain
Moffitt Cancer Center offers extensive pain and palliative care services. Your Anal Cancer Treatment Team will address both pain management and symptom management to help improve your quality of life. Pain-relieving medications can help reduce symptoms, as can surgical procedures. In addition, Moffitt’s Integrative Medicine service offers a number of complementary modalities, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, imagery and relaxation techniques that can help control pain and offer a greater sense of well-being.