Long-term Patterns of Failure and the Value of Blood Prognostic Markers in Anal Cancers Treated With Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy

Published:October 23, 2021DOI:



      To analyze the long-term outcomes and prognostic value of hematological parameters in anal cancer patients receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).


      Hospital records of consecutive patients with anal squamous cell carcinoma who received curative-intent IMRT according to a standardized contouring protocol between 2010 and 2020 were reviewed. Locoregional failure-free survival (LRFS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Coverage of locoregional recurrences by the initial IMRT volumes were assessed. The prognostic value of pretreatment blood counts for PFS and OS were determined using Cox regression analysis.


      A total of 166 patients were analyzed with a median follow-up of 3.3 years. Forty-six percent and 54% of patients had Stage I-II and IIIA-B cancers, respectively. The 5-year LRFS, DMFS, PFS and OS were 81%, 89%, 65% and 76% respectively. Grade ≥ 3 toxicity occurred in 5% of patients. Of all patients who relapsed, 70% had only locoregional recurrence as first site of failure. Ninety percent of locoregional recurrences were in-field. Hemoglobin, neutrophil and platelet counts were associated with PFS on univariable analysis, but only cancer stage and p16 status remained prognostic on multivariable analysis. Patients with more advanced cancer stages also had higher baseline neutrophil counts. Performance status and neutrophil counts were prognostic for OS on multivariable analysis.


      This study affirms the long-term efficacy and safety of IMRT. Treatment resistance, rather than radiation geographic miss, is a major issue underpinning locoregional recurrences. Pretreatment blood counts were not validated to be independently prognostic for disease recurrence.


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