Anal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with anal cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, an estimated 8,590 adults (2,690 men and 5,900 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with anal cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes more than 90% of anal cancers. See the Risk Factors 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 1,350 deaths (540 men and 810 women) from this disease will occur this year.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with anal cancer is 68%.

However, survival rates depend on many factors, including the type of anal cancer (see Introduction) and the extent or stage of cancer at the time it is found. If the cancer is diagnosed only in the anal area, the 5-year survival rate is about 82%. Approximately 48% 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 survival rate is 65%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 32%.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with anal cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 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) publications, Cancer Facts & Figures 2020 and Cancer Facts & Figures 2017; the ACS website (January 2020); and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (January 2020).

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