Breakthrough in the treatment of anal cancer

Specialists at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and University of Manchester have made a breakthrough which could potentially improve detection and treatment of anal cancer, as well as have wider implications for other cancers.

Anal cancer is a rare form of cancer, but cases have increased dramatically in recent years. Research is urgently needed to improve detection and treatment and to save lives. The findings of this project will play a crucial role in these efforts going forward.

The study was funded by the Bowel Disease Research Foundation (BDRF) charity. The findings have been published in Lancet Oncology.

The study worked with data on more than 10,000 patients, examining whether current methods of checking if anal cancer has spread to lymph nodes are giving experts an accurate picture of survival rates. The research team was led from Manchester, working hand in hand with centres in Leeds and Switzerland.

Anal cancer that has spread to lymph nodes is linked to a worse prognosis and lower chance of survival. The project’s findings however have uncovered a phenomenon suggesting rates of lymph node spread are being overestimated, potentially leading to over-treatment of patients with chemo radiotherapy. This can result in damaging side effects, and doctors are particularly keen to avoid it in cases where it offers little benefit to the patient at potentially great cost.

The results will be crucial to future large scale trials looking at optimum care for anal cancer patients. By identifying a unique phenomenon, these results will be taken into account by future work and ultimately could lead to better diagnosis of tumour stage and thus better treatment.

Christie consultant and University of Manchester Professor of Cancer Studies and Surgery, Andrew Renehan, leads the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) Anorectal Organ Preservation Research Group. He said “These high-profile results will play a vital part in improving patient care. Our research team has done a wonderful job highlighting an important and as yet unrecognised issue in the staging of cases of anal cancer. These findings will help us to better understand how anal cancer patients should be treated, ultimately improving survival rates and quality of life. It is crucial that we tackle what is becoming an increasingly common form of cancer through research studies like this. These findings could provide learnings for other cancers too.”

Free WordPress Themes, Free Android Games