Anal cancer

Anal cancer is a rare tumor type. The Netherlands Cancer Society is an expert center for anal cancer.

The prevalence of anal cancer in the Netherlands has increased over the past ten years. It is equally common in men and women and usually occurs in people who are between 55 and 65 years old. Certain types of infections with the human papillomavirus can increase the risk of anal cancer.

Find out more about the symptoms and the most commonly used diagnostic tests and treatment types for anal cancer on this page.

Causes and symptoms

The main symptoms of anal cancer are pain in the anus (spontaneous or during bowel movements), anal bleeding or other abnormal discharge, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the area. Some people also notice a swelling or lump.

A common factor in the development of anal cancer is a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, although many cases don’t have a detectable direct cause. Not everybody infected with HPV develops anal cancer either. The risk of developing anal cancer is higher in people who have had multiple sexual encounters involving receptive anal sex, are HIV-positive, or use medication that suppresses the immune system (such as after organ transplants). Women who previously developed cervical cancer or vulvar cancer also have an increased risk of developing anal cancer.


The following diagnostic tests may be done to confirm or rule out anal cancer:

6 days

rapid diagnostics

You can usually get rapid diagnostics within six days

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Treatment options

Your exact treatment options will depend on the tumor type and stage. Your overall health and shape will also affect your options. We will inform you about the process beforehand, and you will have plenty of time to ask questions.
if your tumor is small, surgery (local excision) might be an option.
Your treatment will most likely consist of one or more of the following options:

Read more about scheduling your appointment or second opinion

After-care and supportive care

Treatment for anal cancer can significantly impact your life. You may experience physical problems like fatigue, bladder or bowel issues, or sexual problems. You may also experience psychological problems like anxiety, uncertainty, or problems with your work and income.

If you are experiencing any problems, we will help you find the right solution for you, or support you with your (sometimes permanent) problems.

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