Anal cancer

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Survival statistics for anal cancer

Survival statistics for anal cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for anal cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for anal cancer is 66%. This means that, on average, 66% of people diagnosed with anal cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of anal cancer. Generally, the earlier anal cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Survival by stage of anal cancer is reported as 5-year relative survival. Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of anal cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and includes statistics from other countries.

Anal cancer survival
StageDescription5-year relative survival

stage 1 or stage 2 (localized)

The cancer is only in the anal canal or perianal skin.


stage 3 (regional)

The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or structures.


stage 4 (distant)

The cancer has spread to other parts of the body farther from the anus.


Questions about survival

People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.


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