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Anal cancer

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Treatments for stage III anal cancer

The following are treatment options for stage III anal cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Chemoradiation

Chemoradiation is the main treatment for stage III anal cancer. It combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. The 2 treatments are given during the same time period. Some types of chemotherapy make radiation therapy more effective.

Chemoradiation is usually given as daily treatments of external beam radiation therapy for 5–6 weeks. The drugs most commonly given during this time period are 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil) and mitomycin (Mutamycin). Sometimes capecitabine (Xeloda) is used instead of 5-fluorouracil.

Sometimes more treatment is needed if the chemoradiation didn’t destroy all the cancer cells. This may be called salvage therapy. It is usually chemotherapy alone or with radiation therapy. The chemotherapy drugs used most often in salvage therapy are 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin (Platinol AQ). When more radiation therapy is given, it’s called a radiation boost.

Surgery

You may be offered surgery for stage III anal cancer if chemoradiation didn’t destroy all the cancer cells.

Abdominoperineal resection may be used to treat stage IIIA or stage IIIB anal cancer. This surgery removes the rectum, anus, anal sphincter and muscles around the anus.

Wide local excision may be used to remove a stage IIIB anal cancer when there is only a small amount of cancer. This surgery removes the tumour along with some healthy tissue around it (called the surgical margin).

Inguinal lymph node dissection may be used to treat stage IIIB anal cancer when it has spread to lymph nodes in the groin.

Clinical trials

You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for anal cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

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