The treatment for anal cancer actually depends on several factors -- the location of the cancer, the size of the tumor and the overall health of the patient. Usually the doctors work together with the patient to decide the best possible treatment plan.
There are primarily three types of treatment for anal cancer and they are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Surgery: The type of surgery depends upon the stage of the cancer. Early stage cancer or in situ cancer is treated by removing the cancerous cells along with a small area of the surrounding tissue mass. Thereafter, the patient has to have regular follows ups for screening and subsequent removal of cancerous tissue.
Patients in later stages of cancer first undergo a small surgery wherein a piece of the tissue is removed for biopsy. Thereafter chemotherapy and radiation are given in combination. Patients who have combination therapy invariably are not subjected to treatment through major surgery. However, patients who cannot have chemotherapy and radiation therapy may have to undergo major surgery. Usually this happens when the cancer is still present after the initial treatment or there is a relapse after the treatment is completed. In case the cancer is recurrent, the patient may have to undergo a colostomy where the anus, rectum and part of the colon are removed; and an opening is created in the abdomen so that feces can be collected in a bag. Even lymph nodes are removed in this procedure.
Radiation Therapy: This therapy involves using high energy X-rays to kill the cancer. The most common type of radiation is known as external beam radiation therapy wherein the radiation is given through an external machine. However, at times radiation can be given through implants this type of therapy is known as internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy.
This therapy has side effects which include fatigue, stomach problems, skin reaction, anal irritation, and discomfort when passing feces. Sometimes, scar tissue can form and this can cause problems with bowel movements. However, most of the side effects disappear once the therapy is over.
Chemotherapy: Here drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. The drug is intravenously fed into the blood stream and target only cancer cells. This treatment is highly effective when combined with radiation therapy. The benefit of the combination ensures that lower doses of radiation are used and the chances of destroying the cancerous tissue completely are very high.
Patients who are HIV positive are given low doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy but it depends on how badly the immune system is compromised by the HIV.
Side effects of chemotherapy include fatigue, possibility of infection, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. However, these side effects are dependent on the overall health of the patient and usually disappear once the therapy is completed.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pauline_Go