Treatment outcomes and prognostic factors after chemoradiotherapy for anal cancer

Acta Oncol. 2021 Jul;60(7):921-930. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2021.1918763. Epub 2021 May 8.


Background: Squamous cell carcinoma of the anus (SCCA) is a rare malignancy with rising incidence, associated with human papilloma virus (HPV). Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is the preferred treatment. The purpose was to investigate treatment failure, survival and prognostic factors after CRT.

Material and methods: In this prospective observational study from a large regional centre, 141 patients were included from 2013 to 2017, and 132 were eligible for analysis. The main inclusion criteria were SCCA, planned radiotherapy, and performance status (ECOG) ≤2. Patient characteristics, disease stage, treatment, and treatment response were prospectively registered. Disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and locoregional treatment failure after CRT were analysed. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated with Cox`s proportional hazards model.

Results: Median follow-up was 54 (range 6-71) months. Eighteen patients (14%) had treatment failures after CRT; of these 10 (8%) had residual tumour, and 8 (6%) relapse as first failure. The first treatment failure was locoregional (11 patients), distant (5 patients), and both (2 patients). Salvage abdomino-perineal resection was performed in 10 patients, 2 had resections of metastases, and 3 both. DFS was 85% at 3 years and 78% at 5 years. OS was 93% at 3 years and 86% at 5 years. In analyses adjusted for age and gender, HPV negative tumours (HR 2.5, p = 0.024), N3 disease (HR 2.6, p = 0.024), and tumour size ≥4 cm (HR 2.4, p = 0.038) were negative prognostic factors for DFS.

Conclusion: State-of-the-art chemoradiotherapy for SCCA resulted in excellent outcomes, and improved survival compared with previous national data, with <15% treatment failures and a 3-year DFS of >80%.

Keywords: Anal cancer; prognostic factors; radiotherapy; squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Anus Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local* / therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome