Living with the side effects

The standard of care to treat anal cancer stages I-III is combined chemoradiation therapy, otherwise known as the ‘Nigro Protocol’. The standard of care to treat stage IV anal cancer is chemotherapy. Surgery is less commonly used for the primary treatment of anal cancer.

Even in early diagnoses, treatment can often have serious and difficult side effects. In this section, we describe the side effects and methods to manage them. It is important to remember, however, that side effects vary from person to person. Each individual anal cancer thriver may not experience all of the side effects we lay out in these pages, and it is impossible to predict how intensely they will occur.

In this section, we also include information on building your care team and the three main specialists thrivers often find helpful to include: dietitians, physical therapists and sex therapists.

Please note that if you are newly diagnosed, you may not be ready for all of the information contained here. If you do not think you are, or if you do not know, please have a friend or family member look through the information first. They can then help give you the most relevant information for your situation, or at least let you know which sections you should look at now and which you can save for later.

We are here to help. Please Contact Us if you have any questions or concerns about the information contained in these pages. As always, make sure to discuss this information with your care team. They will be able to evaluate your own particular side effects and risks and provide you with the best care possible for your unique situation.

Resources you may also find helpful include:

goodmanDr. Jeanne Carter’s and Dr. Karyn Goodman’s presentations from the Foundation’s educational forum.



Our three part series by Dr. Allison Palandrani, PT, DPT on how physical therapy can help with anal cancer recovery. The series begins here. Part two. Part three. Also, see our latest update to this series which was posted August 26, 2020 on the blog.


taking care of youOur first online thriver Google Hangout: Taking Care of You: Managing Side Effects from Treatment for Anal Cancer