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Drug Therapy Combats Some Cancers in HIV Patients

HAART cuts risk of Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, study finds

WEDNESDAY, March 16, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may prevent excess risk of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancers in people with HIV, says a study in the March 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, analyzed data on more than 7,300 HIV patients from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and Swiss cancer registries. The HIV patients had highly elevated risk of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and an increased risk of anal cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, cervical cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the lip, mouth and pharynx, and non-melanoma skin cancer.

The patients who used HAART had lower risks of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma compared to HIV patients who didn't use HAART, the study found. However, even in the HIV patients who used HAART, these cancers occurred 20 times more frequently than among people without HIV/AIDS.

The use of HAART wasn't associated with lower risks of Hodgkin lymphoma or the other kinds of cancers examined in this study. The researchers also found that while HIV patients had increased risk of cancers of the lung, lip, mouth and pharynx, no such cases of cancers were found among nonsmokers.

"In conclusion, HAART treatment may prevent excess risk of (Kaposi sarcoma) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but not that of Hodgkin lymphoma or other non-AIDS-defining cancers. Focusing on ways to encourage persons infected with HIV to quite smoking would be effective in reducing lung cancer in these persons," the study authors wrote.

More information

AIDSinfo has more about HIV treatment.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, March 15, 2005
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