What is anal cancer?

Anal cancer is a rare cancer that starts in the anus. This is the opening at the very end of the large bowel. 

Anal cancer symptoms

Symptoms of anal cancer can include bleeding, bowel changes and severe itching (pruritus). These can also be symptoms for other conditions, but it's important to see your doctor.

Risks and causes

Many anal cancers are linked to lifestyle or other risk factors. Having these risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.

Getting diagnosed

Your GP will ask you about your symptoms. Find out about referral to a specialist, and the tests you might have.

Stages and types

The stage of anal cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. The type tells you which type of cell the cancer started in.



Survival depends on the stage of your anal cancer. 


Your treatment depends on where your cancer is, how big it is, and whether it has spread anywhere else in your body. 

Living with anal cancer

Getting practical and emotional support can help you cope with a diagnosis of cancer, life during treatment and life after cancer.

Research and clinical trials

Research is looking at screening for anal cancer, and possible ways of improving treatment. Find out about clinical trials looking into anal cancer. 

Last reviewed: 
28 Mar 2019
Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer