BDRF research highlights positive trends in anal cancer survival

Findings from a BDRF study published in the British Journal of Cancer* show a striking increase in people surviving anal cancer.

Researchers looked at outcomes for 560 patients having chemoradiotherapy (the gold standard treatment) over the last 25 years. There was a clear trend toward better outcomes over that time, despite the disease becoming more common.

The results will help create predictive models for current and future outcomes which will help researchers design new trials.

Commenting on the importance of the study, Primary Investigator Hema Sekhar said:

“In this paper we report on the largest institute-level, prospectively-maintained data-set of a homogenous group of patients with anal cancer, receiving chemoradiotherapy as standard.

We see an increase in nodal positivity at presentation over time, on a background of stable presentation of T-stage over this time. As such, we propose the increased nodal positivity is likely secondary to the increased use of advanced imaging over time and increased detection, rather than true stage migration. (As discussed in a previous BDRF-funded study published in Lancet Oncology, Sekhar et al 2017).

We demonstrate a marked improvement in loco-regional failure, cancer-specific survival and overall survival in this cohort over time, without any clear change in stage of tumour or patient demographics. The reasons behind this are not clear but are likely to be multifactorial. It is vital that future trials in anal cancer keep these results in consideration in order to design appropriately powered studies.”.

We’re delighted to see more BDRF research published.

As Hema says, there are likely a number of reasons why outcomes are getting so much better – but research is bound to have played its part in improved diagnosis, care and treatment.

A big thankyou to all the research team involved, and to all our supporters who made it possible.

Read next article: “Doctors are used to bottoms….they’ve got one themselves”

*Sekhar, H., Malcomson, L., Kochhar, R. et al. Temporal improvements in loco-regional failure and survival in patients with anal cancer treated with chemo-radiotherapy: treatment cohort study (1990–2014). Br J Cancer (2020).