HIV Patients Tolerate Radiation for Head-and-Neck Cancer

HIV and non-HIV patients have similar toxicity rates from radiation for head-and-neck cancer

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Radiation therapy is relatively well tolerated in appropriately selected patients with HIV, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics.

Emily A. Klein, from the University of California Davis Cancer Center in Sacramento, and colleagues examined the medical records of 12 patients with serological evidence of HIV who underwent radiation therapy for newly diagnosed squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Six of the patients received concurrent chemotherapy. Nine patients were receiving antiretroviral therapy at the time of treatment.

The investigators found that the three-year estimate for overall survival was 78 percent, and for local-regional control it was 92 percent. Grade 3+ toxicity occurred in seven patients; the most common was confluent mucositis, which was seen in five patients, and moist skin desquamation found in four patients. Two patients lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, but none had more than 15 percent weight loss from baseline. Five patients needed a break of more than 10 cumulative days during the course of treatment, but none required hospitalization, and there were no fatalities related to treatment. These results were similar to historical controls without HIV.

"It was clear that HIV-positive patients tolerated primary radiation therapy for head-and-neck cancer without an excessive toxicity rate or incidence of exaggerated tissue reactions," the authors write.

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