Your health care team

Your GP plays a key role in your care throughout your treatment for anal cancer. They will arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests do not rule out cancer, you will usually be referred to a colorectal surgeon, who will arrange more tests and treatment. Once your treatment begins, you will be looked after by a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care.

The different roles

The health professionals involved in your treatment will take a team-based approach and form a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The following health professionals may be in your MDT.

  • GP – explains information provided by specialists; assists you with treatment decisioms; helps you obtain practical and emotional support; and works in partnership with your specialists in providing your ongoing care
  • Colorectal surgeon – diagnoses anal cancer and operates on the anus and bowel
  • Radiation oncologist – prescribes and coordinates the course of radiotherapy
  • Medical oncologist – prescribes and coordinates the course of chemotherapy
  • Radiologist – analyses scans and x-rays
  • Gynaecologist – diagnoses and treats conditions of the female reproductive organs; sometimes sees women with anal cancer if the cancer may have spread to the genitals
  • Sexual health physician – manages sexually transmitted infections, may help diagnose anal cancer, and may perform high-resolution anoscopy at follow-up appointments
  • Cancer care coordinator or clinical nurse consultant (CNC) – coordinates your care, liaises with other members of your MDT, and supports you and your family throughout treatment
  • Nurses – administer drugs, including chemotherapy, and provide care, information and support
  • Radiation therapist – plans and delivers radiotherapy
  • Radiation oncology nurses – help you manage emotional and physical problems, including side effects that you may experience during treatment
  • Stomal therapy nurse (STN) –  provides information about surgery and adjusting to life with a stoma
  • Sexual therapist – usually a qualified counsellor who has been trained to help people manage sexual concerns
  • Dietitian – recommends an eating plan to follow while you are in treatment and recovery
  • Social worker – links you to support services and helps with emotional or practical issues
  • Psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor – provide emotional support and help manage depression and anxiety
  • Physiotherapist, occupational therapist – assist with physical and practical problems, including restoring range of movement after surgery

This information was last reviewed in June 2018
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