Patient-Reported Outcomes After Chemoradiation in Patients With Anal Cancer: A Qualitative Analysis

Kelsey L. Corrigan, Brian De, Michael K. Rooney, Ethan B. Ludmir, Prajnan Das, Grace L. Smith, Cullen M. Taniguchi, Bruce D. Minsky, Eugene J. Koay, Albert C. Koong, Emma B. Holliday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Pelvic chemoradiation therapy (CRT) is the curative therapy for non-metastatic anal cancer, resulting in excellent survival rates. However, anal cancer survivors may experience diminished quality of life (QOL) due to late toxicities from pelvic CRT. Few studies use patient-reported QOL, and few include thematic analyses of the patient experience in their own words. We conducted a survey study with qualitative analysis of free-text responses to explore themes of patient perceptions of their QOL during and after pelvic CRT to inform future interventions, reform patient education, and improve outcomes. Methods and Materials: We surveyed 248 patients with anal cancer treated with definitive intensity modulated radiation and concurrent chemotherapy from 2010 to 2018 who were alive and without recurrence. The survey included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy General 7 item version, questions about satisfaction with preparation and patient education, and an optional free-text response question. Survey free response data were analyzed using the constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Representative themes were generated. Results: One-hundred and twelve patients (45%) completed surveys. Of these respondents, 84 (75%) answered the free-text question. The median (interquartile range) Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy General 7 item version score for survey responders (N = 112) was 21 (range, 15-24). Three themes most mentioned by respondents were persistent toxicity effecting QOL (82%), insufficient upfront information about CRT (56%), and gratitude toward care received (35%). Conclusions: Patients described late toxicities that affect QOL after pelvic CRT for anal cancer. This may be partially due to insufficient preparative information and post-treatment support. This study contributes to the literature supporting improved patient education and side effect management to augment long-term QOL for survivors of anal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100986
Pages (from-to)100986
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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