Despite the rarity of carcinoma of the anal canal, remarkable progress has been achieved during the past 30 years in understanding its pathogenesis and improving treatment. Largely because of the rigorous collection of data and the treatment of patients in clinical trials, it is now widely accepted that the majority of cases are caused by human papillomavirus and can be cured by combination therapy. Concomitant treatment with external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy with fluorouracil and mitomycin represents the standard approach to combination treatment. Appropriate cytologic screening of high-risk populations and the integration of platinum compounds into treatment regimens will most likely reduce mortality from this disorder even further.
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