Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the anus. The anus is the opening of the rectum (last part of the large intestine) to the outside of the body. The cancer usually develops in the skin cells that line this area.

Most people who get with anal cancer are in their 60s. About  3,000 women and 2,000 men are diagnosed with anal cancer each year. 

More information about anal cancer.

Treatment Options

Radiation Therapy

Working as part of a multidisciplinary care team, our radiation oncology team, led by Dr. Charles R. Thomas, Jr., determine how much radiation therapy might benefit you. The type of radiation treatment you have will depend on the type and stage of your cancer.. 

Many patients with anal cancer have external beam radiation therapy for five to six weeks, combined with chemotherapy. Most of these tumors do shrink, and many patients who have this treatment do not need to have the rectum removed.


Our surgeons will work with the rest of the anal cancer team to create the best treatment plan for you.

Medical Therapy

Our medical oncologists are board certified and work with your entire treatment team to provide medication as one of your treatment options. Because our doctors are involved in the latest research, you will also have access to clinical trials (research studies) of new drugs and other treatments that are not yet available to the general public. Your doctor will tell you if a clinical trial could be right for you.

Our team includes OHSU community medical oncologists who have a special interest in anal cancer. These doctors have clinics throughout the Portland metro area, giving you the option to stay in your own community for treatment.

The treatment that medical oncologists provide most often is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be used in a variety of ways to treat anal cancer, including:

  • Chemotherapy before surgery or radiation (neoadjuvant chemotherapy)
  • Chemotherapy with radiation (concurrent chemotherapy)
  • Chemotherapy alone 
  • Clinical trials of the latest treatments

Your medical oncologist will work with other members of your multidisciplinary care  team to provide you with supportive care.This will help you complete your planned chemotherapy treatments and achieve your treatment goals. 

Our Team

We work together to find the best treatments for you. Our team includes our OHSU community medical oncologists who have a special interest in anal cancer. Our doctors and nurses meet weekly to discuss all of our patients, giving you the benefit of the entire team’s knowledge and expertise.