BACKGROUND Anal cancer is a rare condition in Norway (40-50 new cases annually). Knowledge of symptoms and findings is a prerequisite for providing a diagnosis while it is still possible to offer effective treatment with minimal side effects. MATERIALS AND METHODS The presentation is based on literature on clinical studies retrieved from PubMed and own clinical experience with the disease. RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION General practitioners must routinely examine patients with symptoms from the anal region in order to distinguish anal cancer from common haemorrhoids. Diagnosis and treatment is centralized to cancer clinics at the Universities. The main treatment modality is radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy, while surgery is relevant when the tumour is not controlled or for local side effects. The prognosis is good for early stages, but remains serious for patients with primary tumours larger than 5 cm or lymph node metastases.