A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and frightening. You can help yourself to feel more in control by taking an active role in your health care. To help you cope, try to:
- Learn enough about anal cancer to make decisions about your care. Ask your doctor about your anal cancer, including the stage of your cancer, your treatment options and, if you like, your prognosis. As you learn more about anal cancer, you may become more confident in making treatment decisions.
- Keep friends and family close. Keeping your close relationships strong will help you deal with your anal cancer. Friends and family can provide the practical support you'll need, such as helping take care of your house if you're in the hospital. And they can serve as emotional support when you feel overwhelmed by cancer.
Find someone to talk with. Find a good listener with whom you can talk about your hopes and fears. This may be a friend or family member. The concern and understanding of a counselor, medical social worker, clergy member or cancer support group also may be helpful.
Ask your doctor about support groups in your area. Or check your phone book, library or a cancer organization, such as the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society.
There is no sure way to prevent anal cancer. In order to reduce your risk of anal cancer:
- Practice safer sex. Abstaining from sex or practicing safe sex may help prevent HPV and HIV, two sexually transmitted viruses that may increase your risk of anal cancer. If you choose to have anal sex, use condoms.
- Get vaccinated against HPV. Two vaccines — Gardasil and Cervarix — are given to protect against HPV infection. Both boys and girls can be vaccinated against HPV.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of anal cancer. Don't start smoking. Stop if you currently smoke.