Anal Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival by stage of anal cancer

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide that you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured). Also, people with anal cancer may die of something else. These rates, known as observed survival rates, don’t take that into account.

In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with anal cancer.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Many other factors may affect a person's outlook, such as their general state of health, the type of cancer, treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation.

The following statistics come from the National Cancer Data Base and are based on cancers diagnosed between 1998 and 1999. In addition to dividing the cancers by stage, the National Cancer Database divides anal cancers based on histology (how the cells look under the microscope) into squamous cell cancers and nonsquamous cell cancers (See the section about invasive anal cancers in, “What is anal cancer?” for more details.)


    5-year observed survival for anal cancer


    Squamous cancers

    Nonsquamous cancers
















Last Medical Review: 01/02/2013
Last Revised: 01/02/2013