Medline: 6831349

Cancer 51(10): 1830-1837, 1983.

A new approach to the management of epidermoid carcinoma of the anal canal.

Papillon J, Mayer M, Montbarbon JF, et al.


Until recently most squamous cell carcinomas of the anal canal were treated by radical surgery. Radiation therapy was only considered for palliation in case of inoperable tumors. Important progress has been made in the knowledge of the natural history of the disease and in the field of radiotherapy. Anal canal squamous cell carcinoma should not be treated any longer by the same procedure as adenocarcinoma of the lower rectum, because both these diseases differ markedly. Multimodality therapy with radiotherapy as first approach has been considered. This series of 121 cases treated since 1971 and followed more than three years suggests that three protocols based on irradiation followed or not by surgery should be used according to the extent of the disease. Of the 72 patients with resectable tumor, the five-year survival rate was 65%. Three-quarters of the patients cured had normal anal function. The rate of death from cancer was 18%. The method requires an accurate assessment of the extent of the tumor and of its pelvic lymphatic spread. Great care must be taken in planning treatment in a close cooperation between radiotherapist and surgeon.

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Dr. G. Quade