Finding anal cancer early

When anal cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. Get regular health checkups and see your doctor if you have any symptoms or are worried about your health.

If you have a higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for anal cancer. Talk to your doctor about tests that can help find anal cancer early, including the following:

  • digital rectal exam (DRE)
  • anoscopy (allows a doctor to look inside the anal canal and end of the rectum using an anoscope)
  • anal cytology (also called anal Pap test)

Expert review and references

  • Czito BG, Ahmed S, Kalady M, et al . Cancer of the anal region. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 61:842-856.
  • Grulich AE, Jin F, Poynten IM . Anal cancer. Thun MJ (ed.). Schottenfeld and Fraumeni Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 4th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2018: 37:707-714.
  • Meyer JJ, Willett CG, Czito BG . Anal cancer. Jankowiski J, Hawk E (eds.). Handbook of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell; 2013: 6:137-160.
  • National Cancer Institute. Anal Cancer Prevention (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2018:
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Anal Carcinoma (Version 2.2018).