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Anal Cancer Types

Question: Anal cancer prognosis? My friend has recently been diagnosed with anal cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma. She has been told that she will need a combination of radio and chemotherapy as well as excision of the tumour. I have 2 questions. Firstly, given that she does have at least part of her sphincter removed, what are her prospects as far as defacation is concerned? What is the probability of being able to defacate on her own, or require a colostomy bag? Secondly, this is something that is of little concequence, but as shes not yet seen the radiologist to find out the answer it has been bothering her. As I understand radiotherapy, they like to go through as little healthy flesh as possible (understandably) so will she be able to lie on her front as they aim the radiation at her anus, or will she be required to 'display' her anus? We're all rather worried for her but her prognosis is good, and frankly we're trying to see the funny side with a little toilet humour to keep our hopes up. Any insight into this type of cancer would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Anal/rectal cancers generally have a poorer prognosis than cancers in the rest of the colon and are almost always squamous cell carcinomas. Doctors will do everything possible so that she may be able to have bowel movements without a colostomy bag. This often requires chemo and radiation before and after surgery. This is done to shrink the tumor as much as possible to try and preserve sphincter control. There also has to be enough left to be able to connect the colon to. This is more likely if the tumor is in the rectum rather than the anus. The doctor who will best be able to advise you is the radiation oncologist. There are different types of radiation and I suggest she get more than one opinion. If I were her I would look into CyberKnife. Best wishes to you both.

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