Introduction of HIV/AIDS Associated Cancer

Executive Summary

Patients with AIDS or HIV infection are more susceptible to specific cancer types than those without HIV infection and they often have a recurrence of particular cancer types referred to as AIDS-associated cancer. AIDS-associated cancer includes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and invasive cervical cancer (ICC), and other types of cancer with HIV infection include Hodgkin lymphoma, anal cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, head and neck, skin cancer and squamous cell cancer additionally, kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a blood vessel cancer associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) that spreads through saliva and sexual intercourse and does not cause cancer among individuals with a healthy and robust immune system.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is another type of AIDS-associated cancer that indicates advanced stage 3 HIV. It has been prevalent among patients with advanced stages of HIV. Cervical cancer is closely related to sexually transmitted diseases caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Women with a stable and healthy immune system are less likely to develop cervical cancer moreover, HIV-positive women are more likely to develop cervical intraepithelial tumor neoplasia (CIN), leading to the growth of precancerous cervical cancer cells. 

What is HIV/AIDS-Related Cancer?

Patients with AIDS or HIV infection are more susceptible to certain cancer types than those without HIV infection. Patients with AIDS or HIV infection are often reported to have a recurrence of specific cancer types referred to as AIDS associated cancer​1​. HIV infection has been found to influence the incidence of cancer synergistically additionally, HIV associated cancer broadly incorporates both AIDS associated and non-AIDS associated cancer. AIDS associated cancer such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is reported to have an increased incidence among patients with HIV infection​2​. Apart from the AIDS associated cancers, other types of cancer often develop among patients with HIV infection, including Hodgkin lymphoma, anal cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, head and neck, skin cancer and squamous cell cancer.

Kaposi sarcoma

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), HIV infected patients were found to have a 500 fold increased risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma (KS). KS is a type of blood vessel cancer associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). The HHV-8 virus predominantly spreads through saliva and sexual intercourse and does not cause cancer among individuals with a healthy and robust immune system.

The early symptoms of KS are not consistent and often differ among patients and many patients were reported to develop lesions in the mouth or dark skin while including other symptoms such as fever and weight loss. KS has been reported to affect the digestive tract, lymph nodes, and other major organs, which can be fatal to the patient, however, with appropriate treatment, KS can be curable.

The onset of KS has been often found to be indicative of the advanced HIV stage (stage 3) among patients moreover, the incidence of KS gets reduced among patients subjected to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The risk for KS can be reduced, and the average life expectancy of HIV associated cancer patients can be increased over time with proper medication and treatment. The symptoms of KS usually diminish as the patient’s immune system gets stronger​3​.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is also another type of AIDS associated cancer that is also indicative of advanced stage 3 HIV. It has been reported to be very common among patients with advanced stages of HIV. Patients can be subjected to ART for decreasing the risk for NHL. According to reports by the NCI, HIV infected patients were found to have a 12 fold increased risk for developing NHL.

NHL is reported to be of various subtypes, the onset of which generally develops in lymphoid tissue and spreads through other parts of the body. According to studies, almost eight per cent of HIV infected patients were reported to have lymphoma in the central nervous system originating either in the brain or spinal cord. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the major risk factors among HIV infected patients for many NHL subtypes​3​.

Invasive cervical cancer

According to reports by the NCI, women infected with HIV are at a threefold increased risk for developing cervical cancer in comparison to healthy women. Cervical cancer is closely related to sexually transmitted diseases caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Women with a stable and healthy immune system are less likely to develop cervical cancer. The onset of cervical cancer among HIV infected women is also found to be associated with the cancer stage as well as the CD4 cells count and the type of cancer treatment.

HIV-positive women are more likely to develop cervical intraepithelial tumors neoplasia (CIN) which leads to the growth of precancerous cervical cancer cells. Many times CIN can progress to cervical cancer without the presence of any particular symptom. Treatment for CIN among HIV infected women are often found to be difficult, but proper health care advice and medical treatment can provide the most effective treatment. Studies reported abnormalities in Pap tests to be quite common among patients presented with HIV and cancer at the same time. Regular cervical cancer screenings can lead to an early diagnosis of cervical cancer, thus providing a better treatment regime for the patients​3​.

References

  1. 1.
    How Are HIV and AIDS Related to Cancer? HIV INFECTION, AIDS, AND CANCER. Published 2014. Accessed March 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/infectious-agents/hiv-infection-aids/hiv-aids-and-cancer.html
  2. 2.
    Borges ÁH, Dubrow R, Silverberg MJ. Factors contributing to risk for cancer among HIV-infected individuals, and evidence that earlier combination antiretroviral therapy will alter this risk. Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS. Published online January 2014:34-40. doi:10.1097/coh.0000000000000025
  3. 3.
    HIV and Cancer: Risks, Types, and Treatment Options. healthline. Published 2018. Accessed March 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/hiv-and-cancer