Anal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with anal cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with anal cancer?

In 2023, an estimated 9,760 adults (3,180 men and 6,580 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with anal cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 50,685 people were diagnosed with anal cancer in 2020.

In the United States, the number of new cases has been increasing the past several years. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most squamous cell anal cancers. See the Risk Factors and Prevention section for more information on HPV. The average age of diagnosis for anal cancer is in the early 60s. Anal cancer is rare in people younger than 35.

It is estimated that 1,870 deaths (860 men and 1,010 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. In 2020, an estimated 19,293 people worldwide died from anal cancer.

What is the survival rate for anal cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from anal cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with anal cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with anal cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

Although the number of deaths from anal cancer has been increasing, the disease is often curable.

The 5-year relative survival rate for anal cancer in the United States is 70%.

The survival rates for anal cancer depend on many factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes is the type of anal cancer (see Introduction).

If the cancer is diagnosed only in the anal area, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 83%. Approximately 45% of people are diagnosed at this stage. If anal cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 67%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is close to 36%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for anal cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how anal cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023; the ACS website; the International Agency for Research on Cancer website; and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors and Prevention. It describes the factors that may increase the chance of developing anal cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.