Antiretroviral Therapy Lowers HIV Cancer Risk
HAART May Prevent Some Cancers Associated With HIV
March 15, 2005 - Treating HIV infection with highly active
antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may help prevent some of the cancers
most frequently associated with HIV and AIDS, a new study suggests.
Several studies have indicated that people with AIDS have an increased risk
of several cancers, including Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and
But this study suggests that treatment with HAART may prevent most of the Kaposi's
sarcoma andnon-Hodgkin's lymphoma cases attributed to
AIDS, even though the risk of these and other cancers remains high in
HAART is the most effective treatment
available for HIV and consists of a combination of several antiretroviral drugs
that are designed to keep levels of the virus as low as possible in the body
for as long as possible to prevent progression to full-blown AIDS.
HAART May Reduce Cancer Risks
In the study, which appears in the March 16 issue of the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute, researchers analyzed Swiss data on cancer rates
among more than 7,300 people infected with HIV and compared them to the general
The study showed that people with HIV had a much higher risk of Kaposi's
sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They also had an increased risk of anal
cancer; Hodgkin's lymphoma; cervical cancer; liver
cancer; cancer of the lip, mouth, and pharynx; and nonmelanoma skin cancer.
People infected with HIV who were treated with HAART had lower risks of
Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma compared with those who did not use
HAART. For example, the risk of Kaposi's sarcoma was about 10 times greater
among those who did not use HAART, and the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was
about four times greater.
However, the risk of these cancers was still about 20 times greater than in
people without HIV.
Use of HAART was not associated with lower risks of other cancers.
Researchers say the study also showed that HIV-infected people had higher
risks of smoking-related cancers, including cancers of the lung, lip, mouth,
and pharynx, but none of these cancers were found among nonsmokers.
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Eric A. Engels, MD, and James J.
Goedert, MD, of the National Cancer Institute, say that continued study of the
unique cancer risks facing people with HIV and AIDS will also give researchers
new clues about cancer "to the benefit of all."