Background: Through the 1970s patients presenting with anal canal carcinoma were managed with a surgical approach - abdomino-perineal resection. Since then, the pioneering work of Nigro et al. and a series of large clinical trials have clearly demonstrated that combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy result in greater local control, colostomy-free survival and increase in overall patient survival. The aim of the present study is to determine how widely the combined modality approach has been adopted in routine clinical practice and what outcomes are achieved in this setting. Methods: All patients with anal cancer treated at three tertiary referral centres over an 11-year period (1991-2001) were identified. Data were collected by a retrospective record review. Results: Our search identified a total of 50 patients: 22 men and 28 women, with a median age of 62 years. Four patients had metastatic disease diagnosed at presentation. Nine patients (18%) were at least 75 years of age and three were known to be HIV positive. Median potential follow up is 52 months. Of the 46 patients treated for cure, 38 received a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, with 79% achieving a complete response. Efficacy was maintained in treated elderly patients (≥75 years). The 5-year survival of the 38 patients with local or locoregional disease who received combined chemoradiation modality was 63%. Conclusions: Overall this series demonstrates that combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy has been adopted as standard treatment with outcome data similar to those reported in the randomized clinical trials. Where possible elderly patients should receive combined modality therapy.
- Anal carcinoma