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What is anal cancer

Anal cancer is a cancer that occurs around the anal opening or in the anal canal. It is rare in heterosexual men or women and occurs more commonly men who have sex with men (MSM), particularly those with HIV infection. It starts to occur in MSM with HIV at about 35 years of age and becomes more common as they get older.


On average about one in every thousand MSM with HIV will develop anal cancer every year. Anal cancer generally has a good outlook although the smaller it is when it is diagnosed the better the outlook. If it is less than 1cm in size when diagnosed almost all are cured with treatment however as it size increases, the chance of complete cure falls.


Treatment involves a combination of one or more of the following; surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Small tumours generally need less treatment.