U.S. Reports Drop in AIDS-Related Cancers

Improvement linked to advent of antiretroviral drugs, researchers say

TUESDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Cases of AIDS-related cancers have decreased among people with HIV in the United States, but other types of cancer are on the rise in this group, a new study has found.

Three cancers -- Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and invasive cervical cancer -- are among the diseases included in the criteria that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to determine whether a person with HIV has developed AIDS.

The study, by researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that these AIDS-defining cancers decreased threefold, from 34,000 cases between 1991 and 1995 to about 10,000 cases between 2001 and 2005.

They attributed the decrease to the introduction in 1996 of highly active antiretroviral therapy, which improves immune function, reduces risk of progression to AIDS and greatly improves survival among people infected with HIV.

But the study also found that the total number of all other types of cancers in people with HIV tripled, from about 3,000 cases between 1991 and 1995 to about 10,000 cases between 2001 and 2005.

The findings were published online April 11 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Our study observed striking increases for a number of malignancies related to cancer risk factors that are known to be prevalent in this population, such as smoking and infection with cancer-causing viruses," study author Meredith S. Shiels, from the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, said in a journal news release. "We also observed increases for nearly all other cancers, which is what one might expect for an aging population."

Senior investigator Dr. Eric A. Engels, a colleague of Shiels, said in the release that "the changing number and types of cancer for people with HIV/AIDS highlights the need for research focusing on the specific cancer prevention needs of this population, including smoking cessation, treatment of hepatitis B and C viral infections and prevention and screening for HPV-related cancers."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about HIV/AIDS.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, April 11, 2011

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