Both ablation and expectant management of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions have been proposed. Expectant management would be reasonable if 1) the rate of high-grade squamous epithelial lesion progression to anal squamous cell carcinoma were low, and 2) anal squamous cell carcinoma arising under surveillance had a better prognosis than anal squamous cell carcinoma presenting without an identified precursor.
This study aims to quantify aspects of high-grade squamous epithelial lesion/anal squamous cell carcinoma clinical evolution in a surgical practice.
This is a retrospective cohort study.
This study was performed in 1 colorectal surgeon’s practice over a 20-year period.
Consecutive patients with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion and anal squamous cell carcinoma were included.
We looked at the rate and timing of progression to anal squamous cell carcinoma, and the stage, treatment, and outcome of anal squamous cell carcinoma. We reviewed a comparison group of HIV-positive patients presenting de novo with anal squamous cell carcinoma (no prior history of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion).
With consideration of only HIV-positive patients, 341 patients had a mean 5.6 years follow-up from high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion diagnosis to the most recent documented anal examination. Twenty-four of these surveillance patients developed anal squamous cell carcinoma, yielding a progression rate of 1.3% per patient-year. Mean follow-up was 7.3 years from the initial cancer diagnosis to the most recent contact. Forty-seven patients who presented de novo with anal squamous cell carcinoma developed 74 lesions, with a mean follow-up of 5.7 years after initial diagnosis. This de novo group had higher anal squamous cell carcinoma-specific mortality (3% per patient-year vs 0.05%). Our study did not show a significantly higher rate of high stage (stage III or IV) at anal squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis in the de novo group in comparison with the surveillance group (25.5% vs 8.3% (p = 0.09)).
This study was retrospective in nature and had a predominately male population.
The progression of untreated high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion to anal squamous cell carcinoma approximates 1% per patient-year. Anal squamous cell carcinoma developing under surveillance tends to be of an earlier stage and to require fewer major interventions than anal squamous cell carcinoma presenting de novo. Cancer-specific mortality was lower for malignancies that developed under surveillance. We suggest that expectant management of patients with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion is a rational strategy for preventing anal cancer morbidity. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/A699.
Surgical Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System, and Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego
Funding/Support: This article is in part the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
Financial Disclosures: None reported.
Disclaimer: The contents of this report do not represent the views of the US Department of Veterans Affairs or the US Government.
Correspondence: Bard C. Cosman, M.D., M.P.H., C.T.R.(Ret.), 3350 La Jolla Village Dr, #112E, San Diego, CA 92161-0002. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.