Anal cancer is a rare condition, although its incidence has been increasing over the past several decades, particularly in women. The majority of anal cancers are squamous cell cancers and are linked with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Recent work in HPV basic science has delineated the mechanism by which the virus leads to the development of anal cancer. With widespread availability of an HPV vaccine since 2006, vaccination has become an important strategy for anal cancer prevention. However, in the US, there remain no guidelines for anal cancer screening. Treatment of anal cancer is dictated largely by accurate staging, which is generally accomplished with a combination of physical exam, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and positron emission tomography. Chemoradiation remains the mainstay of treatment for most patients, with surgery reserved for salvage therapy. Recent trials have identified the optimal use of available chemotherapeutics. Exciting developments in immune therapies targeting HPV oncoproteins as well as therapeutic vaccines may soon dramatically change the way patients with anal cancer are managed.
Keywords: anus neoplasms; carcinoma; squamous cell; neoplasms; antineoplastic agents; radiation.