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Many of those living with HIV face a new life-threatening challenge: cancer
Date:6/6/2011

CHICAGO As the world marks the 30-year anniversary of the first reporting of HIV/AIDS, now comes the realization of a new challenge for people with the incurable disease. For reasons not yet clear, people with HIV face a higher rate of cancers not usually associated with HIV. This increasing rate of "non-AIDS defining cancers" includes lung, head and neck, liver, kidney, and anal cancers, among others. The alarming uptick in cancer rates highlights the critical need to understand how to treat tumors in people taking highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV. Given what is known about HAART drug interactions, can newer targeted cancer therapies be given safely to patients with HIV?

To explore potential interactions between HAART and the newer cancer drugs, the AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC), a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-supported clinical trials group founded in 1995 to support innovative trials for AIDS-related cancers, has conducted the first of a planned series of studies. John Deeken, M.D., a research physician at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and national chairman of the study, presented the findings today during a poster session at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.

He says these early results already have the potential to change the way that cancer is treated in HIV patients.

"Up to this point, oncologists have not had much information about treating cancer in people taking HAART," says Deeken. "We're basically at square one because people with HIV usually are not included in cancer clinical trials. They're excluded because physicians are worried about causing further immune suppression in HIV patients, and because HAART drugs are notorious for causing drug-drug interactions and serious side effects."

The first drug being studied is sunitinib. Sunitinib (Sutent) may stop the growth of cancer cells by blocking blood flow
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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