The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system for all cancer sites, including anal cancer, is the standard for cancer staging in the United States. The AJCC staging criteria are dynamic, and periodic updates are conducted to optimize AJCC staging definitions through a panel of experts charged with evaluating new evidence to implement changes. With greater availability of large data sets, the AJCC has since restructured and updated its processes, incorporating prospectively collected data to validate stage group revisions in the version 9 AJCC staging system, including anal cancer. Survival analysis using AJCC eighth edition staging guidelines revealed a lack of hierarchical order in which stage IIIA anal cancer was associated with a better prognosis than stage IIB disease, suggesting that, for anal cancer, tumor (T) category has a greater effect on survival than lymph node (N) category. Accordingly, version 9 stage groups have been appropriately adjusted to reflect contemporary long-term outcomes. This article highlights the changes to the now published AJCC staging system for anal cancer, which: (1) redefined stage IIB as T1–T2N1M0 disease, (2) redefined stage IIIA as T3N0–N1M0 disease, and (3) eliminated stage 0 disease from its guidelines altogether.
- American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) version 9
- anal cancer
- cancer prognostication
- principles of cancer staging
- staging/tumor/node/metastasis (TNM) classification