Anal Cancer

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After Treatment TOPICS

Can I lower the risk of my anal cancer progressing or coming back?

Most people want to know if there are specific lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk of the cancer progressing or coming back. Unfortunately, for most cancers there isn’t much solid evidence to guide people. This doesn’t mean that nothing will help – it’s just that for the most part this is an area that hasn’t been well studied. Most studies have looked at lifestyle changes as ways of preventing cancer in the first place, not slowing it down or preventing it from coming back.

At this time, not enough is known about anal cancer to say for sure if there are things you can do that will help. Tobacco use has clearly been linked to anal cancer, so not smoking may help reduce your risk. We don’t know for sure if this will help, but we do know that it can help improve your appetite and overall health. It can also reduce the chance of developing other types of cancer. If you want to quit smoking and need help, call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345, or read our Guide to Quitting Smoking.

For people infected with HIV, it’s very important to do what you can to keep your immune system healthy and to limit your risk of infections. This includes being sure to take your antiviral medicines regularly. Talk with your doctor about getting vaccines and other steps you can take to help prevent infections.

Adopting other healthy behaviors such as eating well, getting regular physical activity, and staying at a healthy weight might help as well, but no one knows for sure. However, we do know that these types of changes can have positive effects on your health that can extend beyond your risk of cancer.

So far, no dietary supplements of any kind have been shown to clearly help lower the risk of anal cancer progressing or coming back. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that none will help, but it’s important to understand that none have been proven to do so.


Last Medical Review: 04/09/2014
Last Revised: 12/11/2014