Long-term quality of life after radiotherapy for the treatment of anal cancer


  • Presented in part at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Boston, Massachusetts, September 21-25, 2008.



Radiotherapy is the current standard of care for patients with localized squamous cell cancer of the anal canal. The goal of the current study was to evaluate long-term quality of life (QoL) in patients after this treatment.


Questionnaires were mailed to 80 patients treated with definitive radiotherapy, with or without concurrent chemotherapy, for anal cancer, with a minimum 2-year interval after the completion of radiotherapy. The questionnaire included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal (FACT-C), the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Sexual Problems Scale, and questions regarding demographic characteristics and comorbidities.


A total of 32 (40%) patients completed the questionnaire. There were no significant differences noted with regard to clinical and demographic characteristics between the survey responders and nonresponders. Among the 32 responders, the median dose of radiotherapy was 55 Grays (Gy), and 97% had received concurrent chemotherapy. The median interval between radiotherapy and survey participation was 5 years (range, 3-13 years). The median total FACT-C score was 108 (range, 47-128), of a maximum (best possible) score of 136. Patients who reported depression or anxiety and younger patients were found to have significantly lower total FACT-C scores. The median scores on the Physical, Social/Family, Emotional, Functional, and Colorectal subscales of the FACT-C were 20, 23, 21, 22, and 21, respectively, of maximum (best possible) scores of 28, 28, 24, 28, and 28, respectively. The median score on the MOS Sexual Problems Scale was 67 (range, 0-100), of a maximum (worst possible) score of 100.


Patients treated with radiotherapy for anal cancer reported acceptable overall QoL scores, but poor sexual function scores. Investigations are warranted into more modern radiation techniques that could potentially reduce late toxicity from radiotherapy. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.