Anal Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates, by stage of anal cancer

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some people 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).

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 better outlook for people now being diagnosed with anal cancer.

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 non-squamous cell cancers (See the section about invasive anal cancers in “What is anal cancer?” for more details.)

These numbers are observed survival rates. They include people diagnosed with anal cancer who might have died later from other causes, such as heart disease. Some people with anal cancer may have other serious health conditions. Therefore, the percentage of people surviving the cancer itself is likely to be higher.

 

    5-year observed survival for anal cancer

 

    Stage

    Squamous cancers

    Non-squamous cancers

    I

    71%

    59%

    II

    64%

    53%

    IIIA

    48%

    38%

    IIIB

    43%

    24%

    IV

    21%

    7%

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


Last Medical Review: 04/09/2014
Last Revised: 05/02/2014