Systemic Therapies for Advanced Squamous Cell Anal Cancer

Curr Oncol Rep. 2018 May 4;20(7):53. doi: 10.1007/s11912-018-0698-6.


Purpose of review: We aim to summarise the available evidence on systemic therapies for advanced anal cancer.

Recent findings: There is no universal consensus on the management of this condition and the prognosis remains poor. Nevertheless, significant progress has been recently made including completion of the first, ever-conducted, randomised trial in the first-line setting, investigation of immunotherapy in the refractory setting and use of comprehensive genomic profiling for a better molecular characterisation of this disease and the identification of novel potential targets. The combination of a platinum agent and a fluoropyrimidine is generally considered the standard first-line treatment. Other cytotoxic agents, especially docetaxel and paclitaxel, have shown activity in both the chemotherapy-naive and chemo-refractory setting and are currently being investigated in clinical trials. Finally, further to the promising results of early clinical trials, immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors (i.e. nivolumab and pembrolizumab) is likely to become a standard second-line treatment option.

Keywords: 5-Fluorouracil; Advanced anal cancer; Capecitabine; Carboplatin; Cetuximab; Chemotherapy; Cisplatin; Docetaxel; Epitopes-HPV02; HPV; Immunotherapy; InterAACT; LY2606368; Mitomycin; Nivolumab; Paclitaxel; Panitumumab; Pembrolizumab; Systemic therapy; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Anus Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Anus Neoplasms / virology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • HIV Infections
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Mitomycin / administration & dosage
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Mitomycin
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Paclitaxel