Trends in utilization of first-line palliative treatments for anal squamous cell carcinoma

Srinidhi J. Radhakrishnan, Suleyman Y. Goksu, Saikripa M. Radhakrishnan, Muhammad S. Beg, Nina N. Sanford, Syed M. Kazmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Anal squamous cell carcinoma patients often present with significant symptoms, including pain, bleeding, and obstructive symptoms. This requires palliation-directed therapy as a first-line treatment to alleviate symptoms. The proportion of patients receiving first-line palliative treatments is unknown. We aimed to study the factors associated with the use of first-line palliative treatments in stage II–IV anal squamous cell carcinoma patients. Methods: We used the National Cancer Database to identify adult patients diagnosed with stage II–IV anal squamous cell carcinoma between 2004 and 2016. We performed univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine the clinical and sociodemographic variables associated with the utilization of palliative treatment in the first-line setting, including palliative radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and pain management. Results: Among 16,944 patients diagnosed with stage II–IV anal squamous cell carcinoma, only a small proportion of 492 (2.9%) required first-line palliative treatments to control symptoms. The majority of these patients received palliative radiotherapy (32%), followed by palliative surgery (25%), palliative chemotherapy (19%), combination therapies (14%), and pain management (10%). On multivariable analysis, higher stage disease, lower income, Medicare and Medicaid insurance, and life expectancy <6 months were associated with higher odds of use of first-line palliative therapy. Conclusions: First-line use of palliative treatments to control symptoms is needed in a small proportion of anal squamous cell cancer patients. It was utilized in all stages, but it was most frequently observed in patients with stage IV disease and patients with <6 months life expectancy. First-line palliative therapy was also more frequent in lower-income patients and patients with Medicare and Medicaid insurance which highlights the disparities in anal cancer management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3460-3467
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • anal neoplasms
  • database
  • health care utilization
  • palliative care
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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