Anal Cancer Overview

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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 they can do things 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.

Not enough is known about anal cancer to say for sure if there are things you can do that will help. Tobacco use clearly has 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 your 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 medicines regularly. Talk with your doctor about getting vaccines and other steps you can take to help prevent infections.

Other healthy behaviors such as eating well, being active, and staying at a healthy weight might help as well, but no one knows for sure. But we do know that these types of changes can be good for your health in ways that can extend beyond your risk of cancer.

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


Last Medical Review: 06/10/2014
Last Revised: 06/26/2014