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Are people with HIV infection at higher risk of cancer?

Alternacare Doctor

Dr Hemant Kumar Mittal

  Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine & Surgery

Replied 2017-02-15 09:42:16 UTC

YES. HIV definitely poses one at higher risk of various malignancies (cancers). We will consider it in two different ways.

Firstly, the general logical way and secondly, with specific details of general considerations: HIV basically decreases the immunity of the host ( infected person) to low levels as the infections progresses in the body over a period of time. This leads to a certain proneness to various infections. Now, some infections may trigger the initiation of cancer in body; due to the decreased immune response our body is not able to stop the progression of cancer causing cells ultimately leading to full blown malignancies. The other factor is that some cancers do not have an infective cause at all, but, due to the compromised immune response the body cells cannot stop their growth and the same result ensues. Specific Considerations: Malignancies and their risk associated with HIV infection can again be divided into 2 parts : a) AIDS - defining malignancies and b) Non-AIDS-defining malignancies The neoplastic diseases considered to be AIDS defining conditions are Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and invasive cervical carcinoma. In addition, there is also an increase in the incidence of a variety of non-AIDS-defining malignancies including Hodgkin’s disease; multiple myeloma; leukaemia; melanoma; and cervical, brain, testicular, oral, lung, gastric, liver, renal, and anal cancers. Since the introduction of potent Combination Anti-Retroviral Therapy (cART), there has been a marked reduction in the incidence of KS and CNS lymphoma, such that the non-AIDS-defining malignancies now account for more morbidity and mortality in patients with HIV infection than the AIDS-defining malignancies. Rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have declined as well; however, this decline has not been as dramatic as the decline in rates of KS. In contrast, cART has had little effect on human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated malignancies. As patients with HIV infection live longer, a wider array of cancers is seen in this population. While some may only reflect known risk factors (e.g., smoking, alcohol consumption, co-infection with other viruses such as hepatitis B) that are increased in patients with HIV infection, some may be a direct consequence of HIV and are clearly increased in patients with lower CD4+ T cell counts.

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