Latest Research on Anal Cancer

Executive Summary

Several research studies have been conducted to seek more information on anal cancer, their related method of prevention, their diagnostic approach at the initial phase, and the best treatments and cure strategies. Checkpoint inhibitors are the critical type of immunotherapy that has recently shown efficacy during the condition when anal cancer has metastasized. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) are the checkpoint inhibitors studied for metastatic anal cancer. Radiosensitizer is used to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy in anal cancer treatment. HPV vaccination has shown efficacy in the prevention of anal cancer. Clinical trials and studies focus on deriving better techniques to efficiently deal with the symptoms and side effects of the existing anal cancer treatments to improve the quality and comfort of the patient’s life by adopting palliative care and supportive services from the healthcare team. 

Advances in Anal Cancer

Doctors are doing Research about Anal Cancer, how to prevent it, treat it best, and provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research can reveal new human options through clinical trials ​1​. Always consult your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you. 

Immunotherapy for Anal Cancer

Immunotherapy is said to enhance the body’s natural defenses against cancer. It uses materials made in the body or in the laboratory to improve, target, or restore the function of the immune system. Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy. Checkpoint inhibitors are an essential type of immunotherapy that has recently been beneficial when anal cancer has metastasized (spread to other organs). Two checkpoint inhibitors being studied for metastatic anal cancer are pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). Both drugs target PD1, the receptor for tumor cells, and prevent them from hiding from the immune system. 


Drugs that make tumour cells more susceptible to radiation therapy are being studied to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

Prevention / HPV Vaccination Widespread 

The use of HPV vaccination may prevent many cases of anal cancer, as many types of anal cancer are likely to be caused by HPV.

Early Detection / Anal Cytopathology 

As explained in the screening, anal cytopathology looks for abnormal cells in the anal mucosa. Research continues on how this test can help detect anal cancer in the earliest and most treatable stages. 

Palliative Care / Supportive Care for Anal Cancer

Anal Cancer Clinical trials are underway to find better ways to reduce the symptoms and side effects of current treatments for anal cancer to improve patient comfort and quality of life.


  1. 1.
    Symer M, Yeo H. Recent advances in the management of anal cancer. F1000Res. 2018;7. doi:10.12688/f1000research.14518.1