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Consortium seeks best treatment for HIV-positive cancer patients
Date:6/7/2010

Washington, DC Preliminary findings from a unique study with sunitinib suggest that it might be possible to tweak the dosage of chemotherapy drugs used to treat HIV-positive cancer patients to achieve therapeutic benefit. Given the type of drug cocktail patients use to treat their HIV, much more or considerably less chemotherapy may be warranted, say the researchers, part of the NCI-supported AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC). The trial design is being presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Researchers say the early analysis is important because it highlights the Catch 22 that many HIV-infected cancer patients face. "Cancer unrelated to AIDS is rapidly increasing in HIV-positive patients, yet many oncologists do not know how to treat these cancers, and these patients are also excluded from cancer clinical trials," says the study's lead investigator, John F. Deeken, M.D., a medical oncologist at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"While such caution is understandable, it may be scientifically unjustified as well as fundamentally unfair, and this study is designed to help guide treatment for these patients," says Deeken, who will present updated data on June 7 during the Trials in Progress Poster Session ASCO.

For reasons that are unclear, cancers that are unrelated to HIV infection are growing at an alarming rate in these patients, compared to the general HIV-negative population, he says. These non-AIDS-defining cancers are also more aggressive, occur at younger ages, have higher rates of relapse and poorer outcomes, Deeken says. For example, HIV patients are 13-31 times more likely to develop Hodgkin's lymphoma, they have a seven times higher rate of developing liver cancer, and three times the rate of developing lung or head and neck cancers, he says.

"A key challenge in treating these patients is that anti-HIV medicines are notorious for causing drug-dru
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
215-514-9751
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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