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Non-AIDS Cancer Risk Higher for Those With HIV

As life span has increased, they now face greater threat from other disease, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- People with HIV have about twice the risk of developing a non-AIDS cancer as members of the general population, a new report says.

Men with HIV were 2.3 times more likely, while women with the virus are about 1.5 times more likely to develop these other cancers, according to a meta-analysis expected to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual conference outside Washington, D.C. However, people with AIDS have similar incidence rates of these cancers as the public at large.

The researchers did not examine why these increased rates exist, but they said doctors should note this potential increased risk with their HIV patients.

"In particular, clinicians of HIV-infected patients should inquire about well-known modifiable cancer risk factors," researcher Meredith Shiels, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said in a news release issued by the conference organizers. "For example, the prevalence of cigarette smoking, which is a cause of many types of cancer, is known to be higher among HIV-infected individuals."

Shiels and her colleagues drew their conclusions by analyzing 11 U.S. and international studies comparing cancer rates of HIV patients and the general population.

As treatments have increased the life span of people with HIV, they now face greater risk of cancer, a disease whose risk increases with age. While some cancers have been linked to HIV, such as Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer, not much is known about ties to non-AIDS cancers.

When gender and study design are accounted for, the risk of non-AIDS cancer was about two times greater for HIV-infected individuals, both with and without AIDS, than the public at large.

More information

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

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Nov. 18, 2008

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