One huge goal throughout the medical world is to find effective and well-tolerated treatments for patients with cancer. According to News Medical, researchers recently discovered one beneficial treatment for patients with inoperable anal cancer. The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, note that patients treated with carboplatin-paclitaxel had better outcomes than those treated with other chemotherapy.
This rare form of cancer begins in the anal canal, a short part of the rectum through which we pass stool. It occurs when cancerous cells form in anal tissue, crowding out healthier cells. Risk factors include age (60+), human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, promiscuity, engaging in anal sex, cigarette smoking, immunosuppressants, and having a history of cervical, vaginal, or vulvar cancer. However, this only makes up around 3% of all gastrointestinal-related cancers. Around 8,000 people in the United States receive diagnoses each year. Currently, the 5-year survival rate is 30%.
- Anal itching and pain
- Changes in bowel movements
- A growth or mass
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stool
- Anal pressure
Learn more about anal cancer here.
Carboplatin-paclitaxel is a combination therapy usually used to treat ovarian, womb, cervical, lung, or head/neck-related cancers. However, researchers now believe that it should also be used to treat anal cancer.
In the international InterAAct trial, researchers compared carboplatin-paclitaxel with cisplatin plus 5-flourouracil (5FU). The study included 91 participants. Patients treated with carboplatin-paclitaxel showed better outcomes and higher quality of life.
Additionally, carboplatin-paclitaxel was better tolerated and less toxic than its counterpart. While 62% of trial participants taking cisplatin-5FU experienced adverse reactions, only 36% of those taking carboplatin-paclitaxel did. Additionally, patients receiving cisplatin-5FU had an average survival rate nearly 8 months less than those taking carboplatin-paclitaxel (12.3 months vs. 20 months).