The evolving treatment of anal cancer: How are we doing?

Arch Surg. 2001 Aug;136(8):886-91. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.136.8.886.


Hypothesis: The adaptation of new techniques in treatment of epidermoid carcinoma of the anal canal during the past 3 decades has improved clinical outcomes.

Design: Retrospective consecutive case review.

Setting: A university hospital and Veterans Affairs medical center.

Patients: Medical records of 76 consecutive patients treated for invasive epidermoid cancer of the anal canal between 1970 and 1999 were reviewed. Twenty-one patients were excluded because of inadequate staging information and/or follow-up of less than 12 months.

Main outcome measures: Locoregional recurrence, survival, colostomy-free survival, and morbidity.

Results: Fifty-five patients composed the study population. Ten were treated during decade 1 (1970-1979), 16 in decade 2 (1980-1989), and 29 in decade 3 (1990-1999). Mean age and sex distributions were similar. The prevailing primary treatment modality changed during the course of the study from sequential treatment (chemotherapy then radiation therapy then radical surgery) to concurrent chemoradiation (70% and 0% of cases, respectively, in decade 1 to 7% and 76% of cases, respectively, in decade 3). Locoregional control (50%, 81%, and 93%; P =.01), crude survival (median, 28, 30, and 76 months), and colostomy-free survival (mean, 13, 90, and 80 months) improved during the 3 decades. There were no differences in major complications during the 3 decades (40%, 56%, and 41%).

Conclusion: Primary treatment with concurrent chemoradiation has improved the local recurrence, survival, and colostomy-free survival rates in patients with invasive epidermoid carcinoma of the anal canal without increasing major morbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anus Neoplasms / pathology
  • Anus Neoplasms / surgery
  • Anus Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colostomy
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome