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BMC Cancer. 2018 May 16;18(1):567. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4488-1.

Patterns of care for anal cancer in the United States - a comparison between academic and community cancer centers.

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Southcoast Health, New Bedford, MA, USA.
Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Department of Surgery, Southcoast Health, 300B Faunce Corner Road, No., Dartmouth, MA, 02747, USA.
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.



Management of squamous cell carcinoma of the anus (SCCA) is becoming more relevant, as its incidence increases. The purpose of this study was to investigate possible differences in patient population and care delivery for SCCA between academic and community cancer programs in the United States.


A review of available data from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer National Cancer DataBase focused on gender, age, race, type of health insurance, comorbidity score, distance traveled for care, stage at diagnosis, and therapy utilization (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy) as first course of treatment (FCT). The analysis included 38,766 patients treated for SCCA. Of them, 14,422 patients received treatment at Academic Cancer Programs (ACPs), while 24,344 were treated at Community Cancer Programs (CCPs) between the years 2003 and 2013.


Over the 11-year study period, ACPs had significantly more male patients, of younger age, a greater non-white race population, with more Medicaid or no insurance coverage, who traveled farther for cancer center care (p < 0.001). There was no difference between ACPs and CCPs with respect to Charlson co-morbidity score and stage of SCCA at diagnosis. For stage 0 patients, use of chemotherapy was 8% for ACPs, 9% for CCPs, and use of radiotherapy was 10% for ACPs and 14% for CCPs. The incidence of stage unknown was identical at both ACPs and CCPs (11.5%). CCPs had a greater overall utilization of radiation therapy as FCT for stage 0, I, II and IV patients (p < 0.001).


Our study indicates that gender, demographic and socio-economic differences exist in the patient population with SCCA accessing different cancer programs in the US. The high incidence of stage unknown patients reflects ongoing challenges in the pre-treatment phase. A significant percentage of stage 0 patients received systemic chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, rather than surgery alone. Despite comparable stage at diagnosis and comorbidity scores between ACPs and CCPs, there appear to be variations in treatment choices, especially with the use of radiotherapy, with associated cost and toxicity risks. Further analysis and monitoring of SCCA management in the US may lead to improved compliance with NCCN guidelines.


Anal cancer; HPV related cancer; NCCN guidelines; NCDB; Squamous cell carcinoma of the anus

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