Purpose. Local hypoxia has been linked to a higher risk of metastasis in patients with cancer of the uterine cervix and a haemoglobin concentration of 7.45 mmol/l or less. It is unknown whether the same holds true for rectal cancer. We evaluated the independent impact of pre-operative anaemia on survival in patients with rectal cancer. Patients and methods. A random set of 144 patients diagnosed with Dukes' A, B or C rectal cancer in the period 1995-1999 and registered in the database of the Eindhoven Cancer Registry was included in a survival analysis. Parameters tested were gender, age, pre-operative haemoglobin concentration, tumour stage and therapy. The ones that showed a relation with survival (log-rank test, p<0.1) were entered in a multivariate analysis. Results. For patients without pre-operative anaemia, the hazard ratio of death was 0.35 (95% confidence interval 0.19-0.65, p=0.001), which indicates a three times higher mortality risk. For patients with a higher tumour stage (Dukes' B vs. Dukes' A or Dukes' C vs. Dukes' B) the hazard ratio of death was 1.52 (95% CI 1.04-2.23, p=0.03). For older patients (64-73 years vs. <64 years or >73 years vs. 64-73 years) the hazard ratio of death was 1.85 (95% CI 1.29-2.63, p=0.001). Conclusion. Long-term survival was significantly affected in rectal cancer patients with pre-operative anaemia. Further study on the relation between anaemia, tumour oxygenation and prognosis is needed, as it may have implications for future therapy.

Anaemia, Hypoxia, Prognosis, Rectal cancer
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejso.2004.04.014, hdl.handle.net/1765/64702
European Journal of Surgical Oncology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Halteren, H.K, Houterman, S, Verheij, C.D.G.W, Lemmens, V.E.P.P, & Coebergh, J.W.W. (2004). Anaemia prior to operation is related with poorer long-term survival in patients with operable rectal cancer. European Journal of Surgical Oncology, 30(6), 628–632. doi:10.1016/j.ejso.2004.04.014